German electronics and engineering giant Siemens and U.S. software company Microsoft have agreed to a broad cross-licensing deal allowing expanded access to the patents of each company. The licensing agreement with Siemens is part of Microsoft's recently announced intellectual property policy to expand cross-licensing initiatives and enable others to license aspects of its research and development (R&D) efforts. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in Berlin that Microsoft wanted to gain a stronger foothold on the network technology market with the help of Siemens' technologies. "Siemens is a great innovator and spends lots of money on research and development just like Microsoft," Ballmer said. Microsoft, which plans to invest $6.9 billion in R&D in its present fiscal year, has more than 10,000 issued and pending U.S. patents. Siemens, which spent $6.3 billion on R&D in its last fiscal year, has 45,000 patents worldwide, with another 40,000 patents filed and due to be granted. The U.S. software company and the German manufacturer have cooperated closely in the development of the Siemens HiPath OpenScape system, which uses Microsoft Live Communications Server 2003. OpenScape is a real-time communication management system.