Microsoft has signed yet another Android patent deal, this time with China’s Compal Electronics. The current list of Microsoft’s patent agreements include Samsung, HTC, Wistron, Quanta, Acer and General Dynamics Itronix. This is the tenth agreement relating to Microsoft’s Android patents, and the ninth agreement in the last four months.
According to the release, the patent agreements covers any tablets, mobile phones, e-readers and other consumer-focused devices running the Android or Chrome OS Platform. Similar to the Quanta deal, Compal Electronics will pay out royalties pay out royalties on phones, tablets or e-readers that run on Android or Chrome OS. As with many of these deals, the exact structure of the royalty fees is unknown.
In a blog post, Microsoft revealed that Compal, which produces smartphones and tablet computers for third parties, has revenues of roughly $28 billion per year.
From the release: “We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Compal, one of the leaders in the original design manufacturing, or ODM, industry. Together with the license agreements signed in the past few months with Wistron and Quanta Computer, today’s agreement with Compal means more than half of the world’s ODM industry for Android and Chrome devices is now under license to Microsoft’s patent portfolio,” said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, Intellectual Property Group at Microsoft. “We are proud of the continued success of our licensing program in resolving IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome.”
Microsoft continues to profit off of Android, and this deal just adds more fuel to the fire when it comes to Google’s view on Microsoft’s practices. Google believes Microsoft’s endeavor to profit off of Android is extortion, and takes away from Google’s belief that Android is a free platform. Of course Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer clearly disagrees with this.
But Microsoft counters that its agreements reduce the number of patent lawsuits, as depicted in the chart below. From Brad Smith and Gutierrez (Smith is Microsoft’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel) write today, As agreements ensure respect and reasonable compensation for Microsoft’s inventions and patent portfolio. Equally important, they enable licensees to make use of our patented innovations on a long-term and stable basis…While lawsuits may dominate many of the headlines, these are being overtaken by the number of license agreements being signed. At this point, the fast pace of licensing is reshaping the legal landscape for smartphone patents.
The company added that following the Samsung licensing agreement, Microsoft now has license agreements in place with OEMs that account for 53 percent of all Android smartphones in the United States. And there’s a jab at Google included as well in the announcement: For those who continue to protest that the smartphone patent thicket is too difficult to navigate, it’s past time to wake up.