Eric Schmidt: Microsoft Pushes Patent Deals Out Of Fear Of Android

Microsoft may be preparing for a big Mango push here in the States, but the Wall Street Journal reports that Google chairman Eric Schmidt recently took them to task at a press conference for claiming that Android devices infringe Microsoft-owned patents.

“Microsoft is not telling the truth on this issue, and they are using tactics to scare people because they are scared of the success of Android,” Schmidt said.

Microsoft has targeted several Android device manufacturers in recent months, with big names like Acer, HTC, and Samsung agreeing to Microsoft’s terms. According to a recent blog post by Microsoft General Counsel and EVP Brad Smith, “companies accounting for more than half of all Android devices” have entered into such licensing deals with Microsoft.

Though the specifics of the deals are never fully disclosed, Microsoft receives per-unit royalties from each of the companies that have accepted their terms.

Just this morning it was revealed that Microsoft aimed to add another name to their long list of licensees: Huawei CMO Victor Xu said to the Guardian that the Chinese OEM was approached by Microsoft to sign a similar agreement, and that negotiations were currently “in progress.”

Is Microsoft really afraid of the little green robot that could? It’s certainly possible, considering that Android remains the most-used smartphone OS in the United States and has considerable footholds in many other major markets. The United States will soon be subjected to (another) big Windows Phone push, but Microsoft will still be able to collect royalties on Android hardware should the wave of Mango-powered devices fail to strike a chord with consumers.

While Microsoft certainly has quite the racket running, I’m not convinced that it was born out of fear when it comes to Android. I think that even Microsoft realizes how difficult it would be to dethrone Android, and their string of licensing agreements makes them appear content to capitalize on their success. Even if Microsoft does manage to claim the top spot, you had better believe they will continue to collect those royalties. If anything, it seems like an insurance policy intended to pad Microsoft’s coffers regardless of how things turn out.