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Monday, December 05, 2011, 06:10 am PT (09:10 am ET)

Apple licensed scrolling patent to IBM & Nokia, offered to Samsung

Contradicting a belief that Apple refuses to license its patented technology to competing companies, a new report reveals that both Nokia and IBM licensed a patent covering iOS touch-based scrolling, and a licensing agreement was also offered to Samsung.

Apple's agreements with IBM and Nokia were disclosed in a court filing in Apple's ongoing legal battle with Samsung. Though the details were redacted from the documents made public, The Verge got a glimpse at the original, uncensored court filing which reveals the licensing deals.

Nokia and IBM have paid Apple for the use of U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381, entitled "List Scrolling and Document Translation, Scaling, and Rotation on a Touch-Screen Display." It covers the scrolling behavior in iOS, in which a background texture is displayed when a user scrolls beyond the end of a website or document.

The same patent has been cited by Apple in its attempts to have Samsung's devices barred from sale. Last week, a California judge denied Apple's request to have the sale of certain Samsung Galaxy products stopped.

But Apple reportedly offered a license on the '381 patent to Samsung in November of 2010 as part of settlement negotiations between the two companies. However, unlike IBM and Nokia, Samsung did not license the patent.

Author and legal expert Nilay Patel noted that the fact that Apple has licensed the '381 patent is significant, because the company believes it's a strong patent from its iPhone-related portfolio. Specifically, Samsung, Nokia and HTC have all been sued over the '381 patent.

"Offering up a distinctive software feature covered by a strong patent indicates a level of willingness to negotiate that we simply haven't heard from Apple in the past — it's a far cry from Steve Jobs telling his biographer that he was willing to go "thermonuclear war" on Google and Android OEMs for infringing Apple's patents," Patel wrote.

Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs, released in October, reveals that the Apple co-founder vowed to "destroy" Google Android, which he considered to be a "stolen product." It also said that Jobs told former Google CEO Eric Schmidt he didn't want Google's money, and that he wasn't interested in settling and reaching a licensing agreement.

"I don't want your money," Jobs reportedly said to Schmidt. "If you offer me $5 billion, I don't want it. I've got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that's all I want.