Microsoft has entered into its second Android-related patent agreement this week, with tablet maker Velocity Micro. Microsoft claims Android infringes its patents.
entered into a patent agreement with Velocity Micro, a maker of Android-based
tablets. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed by either company.
Cruz tablets target the "value" audience, with price-points below
most other Android devices on the market. The 7-inch Cruz T301 e-reader retails
for $199.99 and runs Android 2.2, supporting applications such as Facebook and
Twitter, while the $149.99 Cruz R101 e-reader runs Android 2.0 and comes
stocked with Borders e-books.
This marks the
second time in a week that Microsoft has reached an agreement with a
manufacturer over patents related to Android. On June 27, the company announced
a deal with General Dynamics Itronix wherein the latter would pay publicly unspecified
royalties on Android-based products.
quarters, Microsoft has pursued a stark strategy with regard to manufacturers
of Android devices such as smartphones and tablets: pay royalties, or face a
patent-infringement lawsuit. Microsoft claims the Android platform infringes on
a number of Microsoft-held patents.
companies have entered into similar royalty agreements with Redmond. In April
2010, HTC announced that it had agreed to pay Microsoft in exchange for the use
of "patented technology" in its Android-powered smartphones. In the
wake of that, rumors circulated that Microsoft was actively seeking similar
arrangements with other unnamed companies.
Android manufacturers have been willing to put up a fight. Barnes & Noble,
whose Nook e-reader uses Android, filed a countersuit against Microsoft after
the latter sued it for patent infringement.
bookseller's counterclaim, filed April 25 with the U.S. District Court for the Western District
of Washington at Seattle, described Microsoft as repeatedly arguing that its
patent portfolio would "entirely preclude the use of Android Operating
System by the Nook," and mentions that both HTC and Amazon have entered
into patent-licensing deals with Redmond.
is misusing these patents as part of a scheme to try to eliminate or
marginalize the competition to its own Windows Phone 7 mobile-device operating
system posed by the open-source Android operating system and other open-source
operating systems," it read. "Microsoft's conduct directly harms both
competition for and consumers of eReaders, smartphones, tablet computers and
other mobile electronic devices, and renders Microsoft's patents
elected to fight back against Microsoft after the latter filed a patent-infringement
suit in October 2010. "The patents at issue relate to a range of functionality
embodied in Motorola's Android smartphone devices that are essential to the
smartphone experience," Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and
deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft,
wrote in a statement at the time. Motorola retaliated with an
intellectual-property complaint of its own.
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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.