Monday, October 24, 2011

Microsoft signs 10th patent licensing agreement with an Android OEM

Microsoft has just inked its 10th Android patent agreement. This one is with China’s Compal Electronics, and brings the list to 10 total, with nine being inked in the last four months.

Already, the list of Microsoft’s patent agreements with Android vendors include Samsung and HTC, the top two Android OEMs, along with Wistron, Quanta, Acer and more. Notably missing in that list is the No. 3 Android OEM, Motorola, recently swallowed up by Google, and for its patents, no less.

That said, it should come as no surprise that Microsoft has sued Motorola over patent infringement. Microsoft has also sued Barnes & Noble over the Nook e-boot reader and Nook Color tablets, which run on a customized version of Android software.

With this latest signing, Microsoft emphasized that it now has licensing agreements for its patents with Android OEMs that produce more than 50 percent of the Android devices globally.

The agreements have turned into quite a revenue stream for Microsoft. It's been estimated that the company makes between $3 and $6 per handset on these agreements. Goldman Sachs has estimated that Microsoft could make around $444 million in fiscal year 2012 from these agreements.
While, in general, Microsoft prefers to sign licensing deals with rivals rather than fight a protracted court battle, Apple has not been willing to do so in its battles with rival Samsung and others.

It's unclear if any of this lack of an ability to come to terms is related to the anger Steve Jobs felt over the development of Android. His new biography quotes Jobs as saying that:

"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

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