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Apple Inc (AAPL) licensed its prized design patents to Microsoft Corp (MSFT) but with an “anti-cloning agreement” to prevent copying of its iPhone and iPad, an Apple executive said on Monday.

The testimony from Apple patent licensing director Boris Teksler came in one of the most closely watched technology trials in years. Apple is accusing Samsung Electronics Co Ltd of copying its iPhone and iPad, while the Korean company says Apple infringes several of its wireless technology patents.

Apple had reached out to Samsung in 2010, hoping to strike an agreement with its rival on patent licensing before their dispute hit the courts.

Teksler testified that Apple offered a clutch of patents for licensing but, crucially, viewed patents related to what he called the “unique user experience” as a highly protected category.

Those included design patents at issue in the lawsuit, covering the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad. Teksler told jurors last week he could count on “on one hand” the instances Apple has licensed those patents.

Negotiations between Apple and Samsung did not produce a licensing agreement, and Apple filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Jose, California, in April 2011.

Apple’s decision to license its design patents to Microsoft was consistent with its corporate strategy, Teksler said, because the agreement prohibited Microsoft from manufacturing copies.

“There was no right with respect to these design patents to build clones of any type,” Teksler said.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, No. 11-1846.

(Reporting By Dan Levine and Edwin Chan; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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