Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

Summary: Two more OEMs sign deals with Microsoft in order to be able to use Android without fear of being sued.

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Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO: 'Android has a patent fee. It's not like Android's free. You do have to license patents.'

Microsoft has announced that two more OEMs have signed a patent license agreement to allow them to load Android onto smartphones and tablets without fear of litigation.

The two companies are Acer and ViewSonic. The announcements are pretty basic:

"We are pleased that [INSERT COMPANY NAME]is taking advantage of our industrywide licensing program established to help companies address Android's IP issues," said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft. "This agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercially reasonable arrangements that address intellectual property."

The only difference between the two deals is that the the ViewSonic announcement has this little addendum:

Although the contents of the agreement have not been disclosed, the parties indicate that Microsoft will receive royalties from ViewSonic under the agreement.

No mention is made of a royalty with respect to the Acer deal.

Microsoft feels it is owed money from Android, and it's collecting.

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Legal, Software

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24 comments
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  • If MS is in anyway interested in public relations

    they would disclose what patents are being covered.

    While I disagree with the concept of software patents, I do understand that my objection to their existence does not change the law. And as such, patents legally need to be licensed. I am not okay with that, but I accept it because it is the law.

    Having said that, I do object to having to pay for patents when I do not know which patents, if any, are being covered. If I have to accept patents, the least the government can do is pass a law which requires those who charge license fees to disclose which patents are being covered, and to require companies which sell products which use licensed patents to disclose which patents are covered with the purchase of the product.
    Michael Kelly
    • RE: Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

      @Michael Kelly What?

      how is posting a patent number a public relations win? The only people interested in the arcane lore of patents are lawyers and the 1%ers using ABM. The public simply does not care.

      This is not like food labels. you are not going to get fat ingesting too many patents in a single serving.
      Your Non Advocate
      • RE: Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

        @facebook@...

        It is like food labels, except that instead of getting fat you are paying money. I can pay too much money by ingesting too many patents in a single serving. Or, I can pay too much money while not really paying for anything simply because I am being extorted.

        And that goes both ways. It could be the OEM who is not doing their duty in licensing patents they should be licensing. The customer ought to know that as well. And while I agree that John Q. Public might not know he is not covered, there are educated people in the media who can inform them they are not being covered if disclosure were a legal requirement. Likewise, the media could inform the public that the OEM is paying for patents that are not required, and thus the OEM (and thus the customer) is overpaying for patent coverage.

        And honestly I would bet there are just as few people looking at a food label as there are people who would look at the patent number.
        Michael Kelly
      • Extorted?

        "Or, I can pay too much money while not really paying for anything simply because I am being extorted."

        Hyperbole much? Has anyone actually threatened you with harm if you did not buy a specific product? I would report that to your local PD. Extortion is illegal.
        toddybottom
      • RE: Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

        @toddybottom

        If someone tells me I must buy something or they will do harm to me (in this case, sue me), but refuses to tell me exactly what I am buying, then I am being extorted. That is exactly what is happening here. No hyperbole required.
        Michael Kelly
      • RE: Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

        @Michael Kelly "It is like food labels, except that instead of getting fat you are paying money. "

        There is no public good served by such legislation. Why not a complete list of components, every diode, every LED, and all their associated patents?

        "Or, I can pay too much money while not really paying for anything simply because I am being extorted."

        Someone forced you to buy Acer? Lots of hyperbole here.


        "And that goes both ways. It could be the OEM who is not doing their duty in licensing patents they should be licensing. The customer ought to know that as well."

        This is why we have civil proceedings.

        I honestly do not know what you are going on about.
        Your Non Advocate
      • You have dodged the question

        Did MS ask you, Michael Kelly, to pay for their patents without telling you what those patents are? No? Then no one has extorted you.<br><br>Do you have proof that MS demanded payment from Acer and Viewsonic without telling them what patents the payments were for? No? Then you have absolutely no proof that MS has extorted Acer or Viewsonic.<br><br>However, if you do have proof, I would recommend you run, don't walk, to your nearest DoJ (or EC) office with the great news. They will be more than happy to fine MS a few more billion and maybe even throw a few executives in jail. Please let us know on ZDNet how well your conversation goes.<br><br>Until then, you should be careful about accusing others of extortion without proof. You might run into another little illegal no-no: libel.
        toddybottom
      • RE: Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

        @ Michael Kelly

        be serious. I all have sense here, I'm not saying you don't and I'm not being condescending, however, I'm sure you must know that the parties involved HAVE to show which patents that are in question. in this industry there are NDAs (None Disclosure Agreement) which each party is bound by such and can't talk too much in detail or according to such NDA. so if YOU build an android patent and Microsoft sues YOU, then YOU will see what patents are in question and YOU and decide to fight it or pay up whats due to the company.
        blazing_smiley_face
      • RE: Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

        @facebook@...

        If Acer personally had to pay a license fee to use a diode, then yes their should be disclosure. If they just bought a diode from a company that has its patents in order, then no.

        Am I saying disclosure means a mountainful of legal forms needing to be signed or included in every box? No. But that information should be available upon request at the very least.

        And it does not matter if MS says they will not go after customers. They can change their mind at any given time. Ballmer can change his mind, or Ballmer's successor could change company policy, and they would have every right to do so.

        As a consumer I feel I have a right to know that the products I buy have their licenses paid for, or at least know what my potential future licensing costs are. I fully understand that others do not care about that, but that will not change my opinion on this matter.
        Michael Kelly
      • RE: Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

        @toddybottom

        No, MS did not contact me directly, so no, they are not extorting from me directly.

        No, I have no direct knowledge of the underlying contract between Acer and MS, so I cannot say for a fact that there is extortion. But likewise I cannot say there is not, because I am uninformed. As a consumer I feel I have a right to know what that agreement covers so I can make an informed decision as to whether I am legally covered against future liability.

        And also note, I am not singling MS out as being at fault. Acer is ultimately responsible for informing their customer about patent protection. I did single MS out as being in a position to do the right thing from a public relations point of view, which I stand by.
        Michael Kelly
      • Just so that we can be clear

        "I feel I have a right to know what that agreement covers so I can make an informed decision as to whether I am legally covered against future liability."

        You are worried that MS might come after you because the company you purchased your device from might be violating a patent? Are you honestly, honestly being serious with this? Quite frankly, even if you did know exactly which patents Acer was licensing today, you have absolutely no guarantees that Acer won't be sued tomorrow by someone else so you are absolutely no safer knowing or not knowing in this case. This situation isn't even hypothetical. HTC paid MS for patent licenses and a few weeks later, Apple sued HTC for other patents. Now, do you seriously believe that Apple would not have sued HTC had the details of the MS - HTC deal been made public? Of course not.

        Whether these deals are public or not has absolutely no bearing on how safe the manufacturer is from future lawsuits. The manufacturer is never safe from future lawsuits.

        Likewise, whether these deals are public or not has absolutely no bearing on how safe the consumer is from future lawsuits. The consumer is never in danger from these lawsuits. And if you don't believe that the consumer is safe, look above, clearly signing a patent deal with one company wouldn't protect you from patent lawsuits filed by different companies.

        "But likewise I cannot say there is not, because I am uninformed."

        You should be informed about things that affect you personally. Nutrition labels are there because the food you ingest affects you personally in ways that are difficult to tell were the label not there. You are not informed of how much Apple pays for LCD screens, how much LG pays its janitors, or the name of internal MS Exchange servers.

        There is only 1 way that these license deals affect you personally: they may change the price of the product. Fortunately, you are informed because the price of the product is on a label.

        You have absolutely no right to be informed of anything that doesn't affect you personally. Sorry.
        toddybottom
    • RE: Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

      @Michael Kelly

      What are you on about?

      You don't pay for patents... If the manafacturer wants to pay MS thats up to them, I think you will find the prices of the phones didnt suddenly rise ?10 or q/e per handset. All that happens is the companies will make smaller profit.

      If you want to know what patents are being protected, buy substantial stocks in either MS or the other companies and request the data. Job done.
      daniejam10
    • When did MS ask you to pay for patents?

      @Michael Kelly
      "I do object to having to pay for patents when I do not know which patents, if any, are being covered"

      I agree that it would be unfair to ask you, Michael Kelly, to pay for mysterious patents without telling you, Michael Kelly, what those are. Has MS done that? No? Then what are you complaining about?

      Now, do you have proof that MS didn't tell Acer or Viewsonic what patents they were paying for? No? Then what are you complaining about?

      If you object to paying for a product where some portion of what you are paying for has gone towards a patent (either acquiring one or licensing one) then I have good news for you, your expenditures are about to go down to 0.
      toddybottom
      • RE: Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

        @toddybottom

        <i>"When did MS ask you to pay for patents?</i>

        When you buy the product? Duh?, yes? Hence high price.
        Return_of_the_jedi
      • Same response to you jedi

        "If you object to paying for a product where some portion of what you are paying for has gone towards a patent (either acquiring one or licensing one) then I have good news for you, your expenditures are about to go down to 0."
        toddybottom
    • this is a despicable racket

      @Michael Kelly
      that should be banned and investigated by the DOJ.
      The community demands transparency, the abolition of the M$ tax and outlawing of M$ patent proxy trolls as they are described here: http://techrights.org/2011/09/07/kroes-in-the-us/
      The Linux Geek
      • RE: Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

        @The Linux Geek

        *noticed the "M$" reference* thought how mature of this one /s
        *looked at your user name* now it all makes sense, shakes head and walks away.
        blazing_smiley_face
    • RE: Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

      @Michael Kelly(If MS is in anyway interested in public relations) Really????<br><br>Let me tell you something. The companies that you should question here are Acer and Viewsonic. Because you are paying those extra money to them and not to microsoft(not directly atleast).Those companies have signed the agreements only because they know they infringed some patents from microsoft. I think they(Acer, Viewsonic, HTC) have more smarter and expert legal minds working in their companies as well. They signed those agreements because they know they will get more money from customers than what microsoft gets from them without any legal problems.
      templebulls
  • RE: Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

    You got a typo in there
    [i]Two more OEMs sing deals with Microsoft [/i]
    What are they singing? :p Oh I know, that Donald Trump theme song "money money money!" Microsoft is singing all the way to the bank. No one would ever have thought Microsoft could make money off its competition.
    LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
  • &quot;Ropes&quot;? Is that the right word?

    shouldn't it be something like "helps"? "Accepts"?
    I mean the OEM's are infringing on MS patents by using Android, so all I see is MS licening their IP to keep the OEM's safe from Google's mistakes in using IP which isn't theirs to use.
    William Farrell