Microsoft and Dell have announced a fairly dull new agreement on sharing patents – but the weird suggestion in the press release implies that Dell could – if they wanted – make their own Xbox consoles.
Essentially, the two companies have signed a patent licensing agreement. Though details are scarce, it basically means that the two companies have agreed to let each other use various technologies they have the rights to, without lawyers getting involved on either side.
Patents are complicated business – and can be incredible tenuous. Whilst we don’t know details on exactly what patents Microsoft and Dell discussed, it would be surprising if they were almost mind-numbingly obvious things such as patents on how scrolling works, or on how a screen can display electronic information. Inexplicably stuff like this has been granted – requiring one company to pay another company to ‘license’ the idea. A real world example of this sort of thing is Apple apparently owning the patent on the concept of slide to unlock. Seriously.
This deal is particularly relevant for Dell, who sell devices that run Chrome OS and Android – but computers that still may need certain patented actions that Microsoft own.
Perhaps what’s most intriguing though is the following paragraph in the company’s statement:
“Through this arrangement, Microsoft and Dell have agreed to license each company’s applicable intellectual property related to Android and Chrome OS devices and Xbox gaming consoles. Under the terms of the agreement, they agreed on royalties for Dell’s products running the Android or Chrome platforms and on consideration to Dell for a license for Xbox gaming consoles.”
What would Dell want with an Xbox? Obviously this could all be unrelated – perhaps Dell want to use thumbsticks or have a cartoon avatar for users in a boring business application, which MS could conceivably own patents on? Or perhaps it could be much more interesting – with Microsoft licensing Xbox support out to other devices, not unlike how the Panasonic Q could play Gamecube games.
So don’t hold your breath for a Dell Xbox… and if you must insist… why would you want a Dell Xbox anyway?!
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