Microsoft-HTC patent pact could provide Apple lawsuit air cover

Microsoft-HTC patent pact could provide Apple lawsuit air cover

Summary: Microsoft and HTC signed a patent agreement that covers Android handset devices. The move is curious given the Apple patent lawsuit against HTC. Will HTC's move to license Microsoft's patents give it some court protection in the Apple suit?

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Microsoft and HTC signed a patent agreement that covers Android handset devices. The move is curious given the Apple patent lawsuit against HTC. Will HTC's move to license Microsoft's patents give it some court protection in the Apple suit?

In the statement, Microsoft said it will get royalties from HTC. Microsoft also jabbed at Apple a bit; Horacio Gutierrez, deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing at the software giant, said:

"HTC and Microsoft have a long history of technical and commercial collaboration, and today’s agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercial arrangements that address intellectual property."

The implication is that Apple should work out its Android differences with HTC out of court.

Mary Jo Foley touches on a big question: Is this licensing deal more about Apple or Linux? She adds that Microsoft has been licensing patents to Linux users. Since Android is Linux-based then it stands to reason that Microsoft's patent licensing extend to the mobile space.

However, I'd argue that Linux is a nice sidebar to this tale, but the Apple scenarios are interesting. To wit:

  • HTC has licensed Microsoft patents for Android.
  • Apple argues that HTC is infringing on its patents.
  • HTC can now argue that Microsoft's patents trump Apple's and it has already licensed intellectual properties.

Add it up and you get Microsoft patents as air cover. Now it's unclear whether this argument will work, but you don't have to be a lawyer to see how HTC could use this Microsoft deal to its advantage. There's a reason Apple sued HTC, a young company without a broad patent portfolio. Now HTC has Microsoft patents by proxy.

CNet News' Ina Fried quotes Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney, who touches on the Apple angle. Dulaney notes that HTC doesn't gain much from the Microsoft patent pact unless it plays into the Apple case somehow.

It should be interesting to see how HTC uses the Microsoft licensing pact.

Related:

Topics: Legal, Apple, HTC, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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Talkback

15 comments
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  • Well, whad'ya know? Microsoft patents can be useful after all.

    That's a strange world that of patent litigation, or should I say <b>patent trolling</b>?

    Pitting patent trolls against each other can be a smart tactics, even if potentially expensive.

    I trust HTC lawyers know what they are doing, I bet they are getting so much money from selling their Android devices that by comparison the M$ royalties they pay are nothing but small change.

    HTC is wise in doing all to protect the Android business.
    Great Kahuna
    • Gotta love it

      Android under attack from Apple, and Microsoft rides in to the rescue!
      itpro_z
    • Patent Trolls. Sure

      I know: when MS has a patent, it's because they're a troll, yet when [any other company in the world] has a patent they're just "protecting their innovation".
      John Zern
      • Ethnocentrism rears its head, yet again?

        There's a worrying dependability about most Americans' ability to assume that they ARE the world, and to pontificate accordingly. The truth is that It was Europe which gave the world at least as much of the technology on which it relies as has the USA. Think lasers, think CDs, think... smartphones. The first one to be launched explicitly AS a "smartphone" (despite the pre-existing Nokia "N" series, which suffered from low data bandwidth) was the HTC made "Orange SPV", right here in the UK. What's that got to do with patents? Quite a lot. The SPV, it was alleged, was intellectual property stolen shamelessly from another UK company (called "Sendo") and merely encased in a slightly different plastic shell.
        The matter was referred to the courts (specifically in Texarcana, USA) where Microsoft settled out of court for an undisclosed (but almost certainly eye-wateringly large) sum, and a gagging order.

        "When MS has a patent..." it might just be because they've stolen someone else's intellectual property. When that IP comes to phone technology... it didn't happen in the USA, so (of course) Americans are unaware of it.
        BigRonW
        • What gibberish!!

          What are you talking about?

          Lasers were first developed and patented by Bell Labs in the 1950s

          CDs were invented by Battelle in 1965 (Phillips and Sony later merely licensed the technology in the 1980s)

          And the first smartphone was developed by IBM in 1992 (4 years before Nokia) and was available on BellSouth - it even had a touch screen and predictive text keyboard

          As far as Microsoft's patents - clearly you're unqualified to comment.
          archangel9999
      • @BigRonW

        Get your facts checked first. First phone - USA, first CD- USA, first Smart Phone - USA, first wireless device - USA. So now what is your point? It seems your hatred towards is totally blindsided the facts and yet you depend on us for your little country's security. You need our $, and you don't feel shame to bite the same hand that feeds you. go away troll. You are not sufficient to comment about the our country. You think HTC invented your first smartphone for Orange SPV, no it was based on Microsoft's OS. sorry to burst your bubble you troll.<br>--Ram--
        Ram U
  • RE: Microsoft-HTC patent pact could provide Apple lawsuit air cover

    You mischaracterize the way patents work. If the MS patents
    invalidate any Apple claims, then they do so regardless of whether
    or not HTC licenses them. The only benefit HTC gets from
    licensing them is that they may cover *other* things that Apple
    does. If each side in this dispute is violating valid patents held or
    licensed by the other side, then they both have an incentive to
    make a deal.
    normanmargolus
  • RE: Microsoft-HTC patent pact could provide Apple lawsuit air cover

    LOL...OMG....
    Can you imagine the chess playing going on in
    these
    corporate board rooms.

    Man...this is good.

    Hollywood aint got nothing on this....

    Your move apple! .... Then Google ... LOL
    iceman357
  • Now HTC has Microsoft patents by proxy.

    That's not how licensing works. HTC has a license from Microsoft, they didn't buy the patents so that they could countersue Apple.

    The amount of "not even wrong" from journalists who damn well should know better is disturbing.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • True, HTC didn't buy the patents so that they could countersue Apple but

      this move produces a lot of changes in the game.

      Now Apple must be extra careful in their accusations against HTC as they now face a real risk of stepping on Microsoft's toes, a move that could have unintended consequences and cause severe damage to Apple's business.

      Have you ever wondered why, despite frequent insinuations, Microsoft as of today has always failed to sue Linux?

      Because IBM holds many important patents and that scares Microsoft. Apple should fear Microsoft almost as much as Microsoft fears IBM.

      <b>Software patent litigation is a minefield!</b> Apple shouldn't be playing that game.
      Great Kahuna
  • RE: Microsoft-HTC patent pact could provide Apple lawsuit air cover

    If this is the case, I'm a happy camper.

    Not only can Apple run HTC out of business; but it could
    slap MS silly with it's me too late crappy technology.

    Nothing like killing to lame birds with one stone.

    Buy Apple stock. Everything HTC owns will soon belong to
    Apple.
    pjtmgt@...
    • That was a Great Speech!

      Clueless, but a greatly amusing speech nonetheless. Those among us who appreciate having a good laugh are really thankful to you.

      Not only that, but as an added bonus the world's recognition for your intellectual prowess has gone up just a tiny bit.
      Great Kahuna
  • Whatever Happened To That Lawsuit

    from the Taiwan company that claims Apple infringed on their touch technology (I believe)? I wish Apple would just chill out. They've become so annoying in the tech world, if it wasnt for the catchy gadgets like the iphone and touch, they would be near non-existant anyway. They do have good ideas, but they are such bad sports about everything it's become unreal.
    mlbslugger
  • RE: Microsoft-HTC patent pact could provide Apple lawsuit air cover

    The licensing pact doesn't provide HTC with any "air
    cover". The only use HTC can make of Microsoft's patents
    is to demonstrate prior art or somehow narrow the scope
    of Apple's patents. But you don't need a patent license to
    do so. The main use of a large patent portfolio to deter
    patent infringement lawsuits is that you can threaten to
    countersue, but HTC doesn't own Microsoft's patents,
    merely licenses them, and so can't sue Apple for
    infringement. Anyhow, I doubt that Microsoft would want
    its patents tested in the HTC-Apple lawsuit.

    Apple doesn't have to fear stepping on Microsoft's toes any
    more than it did before this licensing agreement was
    signed.
    JustAnotherGuy22
  • RE: Microsoft-HTC patent pact could provide Apple lawsuit air cover

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