Microsoft is serious about this whole Android licensing thing.
The company has entered into yet another patent agreement, this one with Onkyo Corp., which manufactures tablets running Android. So far this week, Microsoft has entered into two other agreements over Android licensing, with Velocity Micro and General Dynamics Itronix.
"This agreement and similar agreements recently announced evidence the momentum and success of our licensing program," Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft, wrote in a June 30 statement.
For several 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.
Some companies have chosen to embrace the royalty agreement option. 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.
However, other 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.
The 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.
"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."
Motorola also 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," Gutierrez wrote in a statement at the time. Motorola retaliated with an intellectual-property complaint of its own.