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Apple licenses $10M in patents originally created by Palm, others

Apple has reached an agreement to license intellectual property from a Japanese company that owns patents originally created by Palm and PalmSource, creator of the Palm OS PDA operating system.

The licensing agreement for 1 billion yen, or about $10 million U.S., was announced by ACCESS Co., Ltd. and was first noted on Wednesday by Macotakara. Other patents included in the deal were created by Bell Communications Research and Geoworks.

The company formerly known as PalmSource is now owned by Japan's ACCESS and is known as ACCESS Systems Americas, Inc. The original Palm OS was featured on more than 38 million devices sold since 1996, most notably the Palm Treo.

The licensing agreement is likely a key strategic move for Apple as it looks to gain some leverage in the highly competitive — and litigious — smartphone space. Microsoft, maker of Windows Phone, originally reached an agreement for some of the same patents in October of 2010.

Palm was a major presence in the PDA and smartphone space for years, but failed to respond when devices like Apple's iPhone and handsets running Google Android began to take over the market. The company was eventually sold to HP, which failed to gain traction with devices like the Palm Pre and HP TouchPad, and ultimately abandoned those efforts.

By that point Palm's devices were based on a new mobile operating system dubbed webOS, the successor to Palm OS. After it decided to move on, HP sold webOS to LG, which plans to use the software to power its next-generation television sets.