Microsoft Inks Android, Chrome OS Patent License Deal with Foxconn Parent
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has signed a patent license agreement with Foxconn parent Hon Hai that clears the way for the Taiwanese manufacturer to construct smartphones, tablets and televisions using Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android and Chrome OS technology covered in the developer’s patent portfolio.
Neither party disclosed terms of the deal other than the agreement calls for Microsoft to receive royalties from Hon Hai. Microsoft patents for technology used in Android and Chrome platforms include navigation and web site display features. Unlike Microsoft, Google does not charge device manufacturers to license Android or Chrome OS.
“We are pleased that the list of companies benefitting from Microsoft’s Android licensing program now includes the world’s largest contract manufacturer, Hon Hai,” said Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft intellectual property group corporate vice president and deputy general counsel. “By licensing both brand name companies and their contract manufacturers, we have successfully increased the overall effectiveness and global reach of the program.”
Pointing to the deal on Twitter, Gutierrez said, “With Hon Hai/Foxconn, nearly all manufacturers in the Android ecosystem have taken an IP license.”
Samuel Fu, Hon Hai intellectual property department director, said that the consumer electronics maker holds some 54,000 patents of its own.
“We recognize and respect the importance of international efforts that seek to protect intellectual property,” said Fu. “The licensing agreement with Microsoft represents those efforts and our continued support of international trade agreements that facilitate implementation of effective patent protection.”
Microsoft’s patent licensing program, which includes some 1,100 agreements, dates back 10 years and has produced deals with Android-based mobile device makers Acer, Barnes & Noble, HTC, LG and Samsung. Earlier this year, Microsoft entered into a similar patent licensing agreement with Japanese electronics manufacturer Nikon for cameras running on Android.
The backdrop to Microsoft’s patent licensing deals on Android-related technology is, of course, its bitter rivalry with Google. One way for Microsoft to obstruct Google’s technology charge is to threaten Android manufacturers with legal action should they fail to license associated technology from the developer.