Microsoft has locked up yet another Android licensing agreement, this time with manufacturer Compal, as part of its broader campaign.
Microsoft has locked yet another Android manufacturer into a
patent-licensing agreement, the ninth in four months and the 10th Android-related one overall.
The agreement with Compal, an original design manufacturer
(ODM) based in Taiwan, covers smartphones and tablets running Android. Compal
is a significant company, with annual revenues totaling some $28 billion.
"Today's announcement means that companies accounting for
over half of all Android devices have now entered into patent license
agreements with Microsoft," Microsoft Executive
and General Counsel
Brad Smith wrote in an Oct. 23 note posted on the "Microsoft
on the Issues"
blog, co-authored by Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's
corporate vice president and deputy general counsel. "Amidst continuing clamor
about uncertainty and litigation relating to smartphone patents, we're putting
in place a series of agreements that are reasonable and fair to both sides."
That "continuing clamor" includes Google's claims that
Microsoft's licensing campaign is glorified extortion. Thanks to agreements
with major smartphone and tablet manufacturers like Samsung and HTC, Microsoft
is earning significant revenues from software developed by Google, a fact that
could irritate Mountain View executives to an extreme.
For its part, Microsoft insists that patent-licensing
agreements are key for industry innovation. "Over the past decade we've spent
roughly $4.5 billion to license in patents from other companies," read the
counsels' blog posting. "These have given us the opportunity to build on the
innovations of others in a responsible manner than respects their IP rights."
For "those who continue to protest that the smartphone
patent thicket is too difficult to navigate," they added, "it's past time to
However, not all Android manufacturers have quietly
submitted to a Microsoft license. Motorola Mobility, in the process of being
acquired by Google, voted to battle out the issue in court rather than pay
Redmond a fee for its Android devise. Barnes & Noble, which makes the
Android-based Nook e-reader, also opted to push back against Microsoft's
licensing attempts with its own lawsuit.
The added irony is that the money Microsoft earns from
Android licenses could, theoretically, be outpacing revenues from Windows
Phone, which so far has failed to attract a customer base capable of
challenging Apple's and Google's smartphone dominance. Microsoft hopes a host
of new Windows Phone device manufacturers, combined with a wide-ranging "Mango"
update with new tweaks and features, will allow it to gain some marketplace
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