Following news that a Microsoft executive filed a patent for digital music technology similar to that of the iPod five months before Apple did, Microsoft has issued a statement suggesting that due to Apple and Microsoft's "good working relationship" Microsoft will allow Apple to license the patent from them.

The statement, reported by, was issued by David Kaefer, Microsoft's director of intellectual property licensing. He said: "In general, our policy is to allow others to license our patents so they can use our innovative methods in their products. Microsoft and Apple have previously licensed their respective patent portfolios to one another and we maintain a good working relationship with Apple."

He told that it would be a bit premature to speculate that Apple will have to send Microsoft a cheque for the patent.

Redefine scope

While the patent office has rejected Apple's application for the patent, it is possible that Apple will be able to redefine the patent so that it doesn't overlap with Microsoft's, explains

There is also a long standing agreement between Apple and Microsoft that the two companies will not be limited by each others patents - hence the ability for Microsoft to freely copy aspects of Apple's operating system, and vice versa.

In a statement, Apple noted that the company "has received many patents for inventions related to iPod, and has many more patents pending".

"Apple will continue to pursue this patent application, as well as the many others covering iPod innovations," said the company.

Apple also emphasised that it "invented and publicly released the iPod interface before the Microsoft patent application cited by the examiner was filed."