After Hon Hai, Microsoft adds ZTE to its hitlist of Android patent licensees

After Hon Hai, Microsoft adds ZTE to its hitlist of Android patent licensees

Summary: Microsoft now has agreements with all but two of the major Android device makers.


Microsoft has sewn up another Android patent-licensing deal, this time with Chinese smartphone firm ZTE.

Microsoft announced the deal on its Microsoft On the Issues blog on Wednesday, flagging up that only two major Android makers are yet to sign a licensing agreement.

Microsoft has extracted agreements from HTC, Samsung, LG and contract manufacturers such as Compal, Quanta and Hon Hai. Still missing from the list however are Huawei and Google's Motorola Mobility.

The deal grants ZTE a licence to Microsoft's worldwide patent portfolio that covers ZTE's Android and Chrome OS phones, tablets, PCs and other devices. 

"Much of the current litigation in the so called 'smartphone patent wars' could be avoided if companies were willing to recognize the value of others' creations in a way that is fair," said Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's deputy general counsel, of legal and corporate affairs.

The deal comes after last week's announcement from Microsoft that it had convinced Hon Hai, the world's largest contract manufacturer and the parent company of Foxconn, to sign an agreement for Android devices. Unlike the Hon Hai and Samsung announcements, Microsoft does not state that it is receiving royalties from ZTE. 

The companies that have not signed up to Microsoft's program are not willing to address IP licensing matters in a "fair manner", according to Gutierrez.

"We have worked for multiple years to reach an amicable solution with the few global companies who have yet to take a licence, but so far they have been unwilling to address these issues in a fair manner. We'd prefer to consider these companies licensing partners and remain hopeful they can join the rest of the industry in the near future."

Gutierrez notes that 80 percent of Android smartphones sold in the US and a "majority of those sold worldwide" are now covered under Microsoft's various Android licensing agreements.

Microsoft's list of recent Android agreements can be found here

Topics: Patents, Android, Microsoft

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • I'm impressed

    This was actually a well written, non-bias article. I wish more writers would just stick to the facts and let the readers decide for themselves. Kudos.
    • No mention of the terms?

      For instance, which patents does MS assert? Does anyone know?
      • Surely the people who are paying know

        Also, MS published their entire patent portfolio online. Shouldn't be hard to find out
        • Really? How many out of how many?

          I'm talking about "knowing" which patents MS is asserting, not guessing.
      • I believe

        that the details are under NDA.
        • Yes, it's all very super-secret.

          So there's no way for anyone to search for any "prior art" - just in case these patents all turn out to be bogus.

          Certainly the patents that MS threatened Barnes and Noble with were BS, but the problem is that invalidating them is an expensive and time-consuming business.
    • Non-biased? It's completely one-sided!

      Is there *anything* in there that isn't from MS's point of view?
      • It did basically seem to come from an interview from a MS attorney.

        However, it did leave out much of the Google, apple, or Microsoft tidbits that are so common with the zdnet bloggers. It should be noted than many if the zdnet employees are actually bloggers rather than journalists, so a decent degree if bias seems to be the norm here.
        Sam Wagner
  • Barnes and Noble reported its own experience with MS.

    The details were revealed on Groklaw:
    http article.php?story=20110427052238659

    One choice extract:
    "...Microsoft has asserted patents that extend only to arbitrary, outmoded, or non-essential design features, but uses these patents to demand that every manufacturer of an Android-based mobile device take a license from Microsoft and pay exorbitant licensing fees or face protracted and expensive patent infringement litigation. The asserted patents do not have a lawful scope sufficient to control the AndroidTM Operating System as Microsoft is attempting to do, and Microsoft’s misuse of these patents directly harms both competition for and consumers of all eReaders, smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile electronic devices...."
    • And now

      MS owns part of B&N.
      • A successful scam is still a scam.

        Was that your point?
        • I'm pretty sure that, neither B&N nor MS, believe it to be a scam,

          and, B&N would have enough money to pay attorneys if they felt they were being scammed or strong-armed.
          • Yes, and B&N did go to Court.

            That "choice extract" that I posted earlier is from a brief that B&N filed with the Court, and I'm sure that they paid money to attourneys as a result.

            That doesn't mean that MS and B&N didn't settle later, of course.
  • here is a good insight into what's going on
    • That link just received

      nut job of the year award...
    • How does that link prove anything?

      It's just some guy ranting with no proof either way.
      Sam Wagner