Microsoft has reached an agreement with General Dynamics Itronix for royalties on the latter's Android devices, continuing its long-held Android royalty strategy.
Microsoft has reached an agreement with General Dynamics
Itronix for royalty payments on the latter's Android-based products.
Microsoft claims that the Android platform infringes on a
number of Microsoft-held patents. For several quarters, the company has pursued
a stark strategy with regard to manufacturers of Android devices such as
smartphones and tablets: enter into a royalty-payment agreement, or face a
lawsuit. General Dynamics Itronix chose the former option, although both
companies remain silent about the actual financial terms of the deal.
"We are pleased to have reached this agreement with General
Dynamics Itronix, which is an example of how industry leaders address
intellectual property," Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy
general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft, wrote in a
June 27 statement.
Other big companies have entered into similar royalty agreement
with Redmond. In April 2010, HTC announced that it had agreed to pay Microsoft
royalties in exchange for the use of "patented technology" in its
Android-powered phones. In the wake of that, rumors circulated that Microsoft
was in the process of negotiating intellectual property agreements with several
other unnamed companies.
However, not all manufacturers of Android devices seem
willing to pay Microsoft royalties without a legal battle. Barnes & Noble,
whose Nook e-reader uses Android, filed a counter-suit against Microsoft after
the latter sued it for patent infringement.
The bookseller's counterclaim, filed April 25
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
"Microsoft 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 at one point.
"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 unenforceable."
Elsewhere in the filing, Barnes & Noble also raised the
specter of Microsoft engaging in anticompetitive practices.
"Microsoft's activities have a significant, wide-felt, and
highly detrimental anticompetitive effect and restrain competition in the
market for mobile operating systems," it claimed, "by suppressing the use and
development of open source mobile operating systems, including the Android
operating system, and the development of applications and devices employing the
Terms like "anticompetitive," of course, are regarded as
sore points for Microsoft, which spent a significant chunk of the 1990s
embroiled in a monopoly dispute with the U.S. Department of Justice. The case
eventually forced Microsoft to make significant
In October 2010, Microsoft sued Motorola for allegedly
violating nine patents with its Android smartphones. "The patents at issue
relate to a range of functionality embodied in Motorola's Android smartphone
devices that are essential to the smartphone experience," Gutierrez wrote in an
Oct. 1 statement. Motorola later retaliated with an intellectual-property
complaint of its own.
The Android lawsuits also suggest that Microsoft is
continuing its traditionally aggressive stance with regard to patents and open
source. Android relies on a Linux kernel for core system services such as
security, memory and process management, and network stack.
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