Microsoft: ten Android firms pay us royalties

Microsoft says legal battles over mobile patents need to stop in favour of agreements

Nicole Kobie
24 Oct 2011

Microsoft has now signed ten licensing deals with Android manufacturers, saying the mobile patent wars are unnecessary.

The software giant has been seeking royalty payments from handset manufacturers for Microsoft-owned patents used in the Google operating system.

Goldman Sachs has suggested that Microsoft could pull in as much as half a billion dollars in revenue over the next year from the patents used in Android.

The latest patent deal is with Taiwanese manufacturer Compal, which makes smartphone and tablets for third parties, Microsoft said in a blog post.

For those who continue to protest that the smartphone patent thicket is too difficult to navigate, it's past time to wake up

The deal is the ninth Android licence agreement reached by Microsoft in the past four months, the company said, and "means that companies accounting for over half of all Android devices have now entered in patent license agreements with MIcrosoft."

Microsoft also has Android-related deals in place with Samsung, HTC and Acer.

"While lawsuits may dominate many of the headlines, these are being overtaken by the number of licence agreements being signed," said the post, written by Micrsoft counsel Brad Smith and Horacio Gutierrez. "At this point, the fast pace of licensing is reshaping the legal landscape for smartphone patents."

Microsoft Patents chart

Microsoft took a clear dig at Google, which has accused its rival of "extortion" over the patenting issue.

"For those who continue to protest that the smartphone patent thicket is too difficult to navigate, it's past time to wake up," the lawyers wrote.

"As Microsoft has entered new markets from the enterprise to the Xbox, we’ve put together comprehensive licensing programs that address not only our own needs but the needs of our customers and partners as well," the added. "As our recent agreements clearly show, Android handset manufacturers are now doing the same thing. Ultimately, that's a good path for everyone."

Microsoft said it has spent $4.5 billion licensing patents from other companies over the past decade and said that "if our software infringes someone else's patents, we'll address the problem rather than leave it to others".

The argument didn't win over all readers of the blog post, with the first several comments leaping to accuse Microsoft of being a "patent troll".

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