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

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


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