Apple has agreed to pay 1 billion yen, roughly $10 million US, to license patents originally devised by Palm and Palm OS creator PalmSource, among other companies, according to Macotakara
. The patents are now owned by a Japanese company called Access. Beyond the Palm properties, Apple has also licensed concepts belonging to Geoworks and Bell Communications Research.
The motivation for the deal
is unknown. Apple is likely hoping to secure protection against future patent lawsuits, given the heavily litigious smartphone and tablet industry, even if Apple is itself responsible for launching many of the accusations. Microsoft licensed some of the same patents in October 2010.
Palm was once a major player in the PDA and smartphone industry, but dwindled in the face of the iPhone and other touchscreen devices. It was ultimately bought by HP, but late-era devices like the Pre and the TouchPad failed to catch on. HP has since abandoned any serious phone or media tablet efforts.