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The courtroom battle between Apple and Samsung has garnered much media attention over the past few months, with the Cupertino company accusing its Korean rival of “slavishly” copying the designs of both the iPhone and iPad in order to create its Galaxy mobile device range.

Of course, Samsung has strenuously denied the accusations, but its fair to say Apple has – at least in the current proceedings in San Jose – had the upper hand over its bitter rival. Each day has brought new revelations, and although hitherto, the only other companies mentioned at the hearings have been affiliated with Samsung / Android in one way or another, Redmond-based Microsoft has now become a topic of discussion.

The software maker’s Surface tablet, which is yet to be released to the consumer market, shares quite a few clear similarities with the iPad. While it doesn’t bear the same kind of resemblance as, perhaps, the Galaxy Tab, but the Surface does have a similar curved design, featuring the same black bezel featured in nearly every Apple iDevice up until the present day.

So, why hasn’t / won’t Apple go after Microsoft? Well, according to a Reuters report, Steve Ballmer’s company as a cross-licensing agreement with the California iPad maker, thus certain design aspects can be used without either company crying foul. Attached to the agreement is an “anti-cloning” provision, which basically means the two companies can both use certain features, but cannot flagrantly plagiarize each other’s products – as Apple feels Samsung has.

iPad smart cover

Apple’s patent director Boris Teksler says Microsoft essentially pays Apple its dues to use certain iOS design patents for its own ends. Apple is reported to have tried to create a similar patent cross-licensing agreement with Samsung with regards to hardware, although unlike Microsoft, said offer was rebuffed.

Apple is looking for around two-and-a-half billion in total damages, but there’s still plenty of back-and-forth to go just yet. Judge Lucy Koh is in charge of proceedings, and will need every ounce of her no-nonsense approach in order to find a resolution.

Still, it’s interesting Samsung decided not to strike a deal, and must have felt the patents in question were its own innovations.

The case continues.

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