Microsoft gets Android tablet maker Onkyo to sign sign a patent agreement

Summary:In its third such announcement this week, Microsoft officials said on June 30 that they have signed up Android tablet maker Onkyo Corp. as another of its patent licensees.

In its third such announcement this week, Microsoft officials said on June 30 that they have signed up Android tablet maker Onkyo Corp. as another of its patent licensees.

Just like the case with General Dynamics and Velocity Micro -- the two previous Android vendors who signed patent-protection deals with Microsoft that were announced earlier this week -- the terms are not being disclosed. However, also as in the previous cases, Microsoft is announcing that it will be receiving royalties from Onkyo as a result of the agreement.

Onkyo, headquartered in Japan, sells a variety of Windows PCs, audio components and home-theater peripherals and systems.

Microsoft is definitely trying to make a point by trickling out the patent-licensing agreements one after another. And Microsoft's point is that Android violates Microsoft patents and companies that are betting on Android are making a risky bet.

Microsoft has convinced a number of Android and Linux-based device makers that it's better and cheaper to pay than fight.  Among those companies with Android- and Linux-based devices that have capitulated, besides General Dynamics, Velocity and Onkyo, are HTC, Amazon, TomTom, Buffalo and others.

Barnes & Noble, so far, is not backing down, and is taking its fight public with Microsoft over its Android-based Nook.

According to B&N's response to Microsoft's legal complaint, Microsoft told B&N officials that the Nook infringed six patents that Microsoft claimed to own. However, B&N said that Microsoft officials said they’d share details only if B&N officials signed a non-disclosure agreement. B&N refused to sign an NDA, claiming the patents were public, as was the Nook product.

“Microsoft demanded an exorbitant royalty (on a per device basis) for a license to its patent portfolio for the Nook device and at the end of the meeting Microsoft stated that it would demand an even higher per device royalty for any device that acted ‘more like a computer’ as opposed to an eReader," B&N said in its response.

Microsoft is believed to be collecting $5 per user for each Android phone sold from those companies which have signed Microsoft's patent agreement. I asked Microsoft officials earlier this month if that figure was correct and was told the company had no comment. I am wondering if the Microsoft toll is higher for Android tablets. Based on the B&N comment above, I'd expect it might be.

Topics: Microsoft, Enterprise Software, Google, Linux, Mobility, Open Source, Tech & Work


Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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