After years of manufacturing Microsoft Windows-based mobile phones, HTC, who recently became one of the largest manufacturers of Google Android phones, phone’s have confirmed that they will pay Microsoft an undisclosed sum to license a series of patents that, according to Microsoft, cover technology in HTC mobile phones that use Google’s Android operating system.
Recently sued by Apple, Microsoft’s decision to cut a deal with the Taiwanese phone maker was rumoured to be a move to provide HTC with IP ammunition to use in its defence against Apple, Microsoft’s long time rival.
However, some analysts are claiming that Microsoft is drawing a line in the sand against its other archrival, Google — and asserting that Microsoft, like Apple, believes Android infringes on its patents. The HTC deal represents the first in what Microsoft hopes will be a series of patent peace deals with Android device makers.
Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing, said, “Microsoft has a decades-long record of investment in software platforms. As a result, we have built a significant patent portfolio in this field, and we have a responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to ensure that competitors do not free ride on our innovations. We have also consistently taken a proactive approach to licensing to resolve IP infringement by other companies, and have been talking with several device manufacturers to address our concerns relative to the Android mobile platform.”
Microsoft’s competitive position has steadily eroded in the mobile phone industry in recent years, losing ground to the iPhone, Android and other competitors, but the HTC deal shows how the Redmond company’s big patent portfolio can make it a player even when it doesn’t dominate a market.
As part of the deal, HTC is paying unspecified royalties to Microsoft, however, no financial details have been disclosed.
Currently, Microsoft and Apple separately have their own patent cross-licensing agreement — which means that, because of the interrelated deals, HTC would be protected from any potential claims by Apple that HTC’s Windows Phone devices infringe on Apple’s patents insiders claim.