Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

Summary: Quanta Computer, a designer/developer that helped create the RIM PlayBook and Amazon Kindle Fire products, has signed a patent-licensing deal with Microsoft.

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Microsoft signed a patent-licensing deal with Quanta Computer, the original design manufacturer (ODM) behind the Playbook and Kindle Fire.

Microsoft announced the Quanta patent-licensing arrangement on October 13, noting that it covers tablets, smartphones and other devices running Android or Chrome OS. Quanta is paying Microsoft an undisclosed amount to cover unspecified patents, according to Microsoft's press release.

Quanta is a company that designs and sometimes builds PCs and phones for other companies. According to gdgt, RIM originally outsourced much of the hardware design and production of the PlayBook to Quanta. Quanta also did some of the development work on the Kindle Fire, gdgt said.

While Amazon signed a patent licensing deal a year ago with Microsoft, it was for Linux-based devices and not specifically Android. There's been speculation as to when/whether Microsoft might convince Amazon to license patents that the Softies claim are infringed by Android.

I asked Microsoft whether the deal with Quanta would result in RIM and Amazon being covered by Microsoft's patent-protection arrangement. I'm thinking the answer is no, but no official word back so far.

Update: Here's how this works, according to a Microsoft spokesperson:

“Quanta is one of two major ODMs for which we’ve entered an Android Patent Agreement. Because we offer patent licenses to OEMs and ODMs, we put in place provisions that make sure we are not paid twice for the same device. Having said that, for the Android agreements we offer ODM’s, we seek agreements that provide coverage for as broad a set of the ODM’s offerings as possible. We cannot specify particular terms for any of the ODM agreements.”

In the past few months, Microsoft has signed patent-licensing deals resulting in undisclosed payments to Microsoft with a number of Android and Chrome OS OEMs and ODMs, including Samsung, Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic and Wistron. Motorola Mobility and Barnes & Noble are fighting Microsoft in signing similar pacts.

Topics: Apps, Google, Hardware, Legal, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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47 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

    Windows Phone, brought to you by Android.
    Rich Miles
    • @Rich Miles, No...

      Android, brought to you in part by Microsoft (and Oracle).
      jznoy-dallas
  • RE: Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

    Micro$oft, even if you don't like our products, pay us to go away
    kingcobra23
    • Better than Apple's approach

      @kingcobra23
      Apple, even if you don't buy our products, we'll make sure you are unable to buy anyone else's.
      toddybottom
      • RE: Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

        @toddybottom
        I think Apple is excessive in their lawsuits, but I'll live with it. The fact is, there are far more alternative (non-Apple) options in the tablet space now then there were before Apple entered. While I don't like all of their practices, overall consumers win.
        anono
    • Microsoft, if you steal our IP

      @kingcobra23
      we'll make sure you won't profit from it.
      William Farrell
      • RE: Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

        @William Farrell Do you have any proof any Android maker has ever stolen any MS IP? You know, like a court case ruling of any kind? Didn't think so.
        So what you really mean is: While MS can't make a sellable mobile device, they certainly can bully others that do make sellable mobile devices.
        anothercanuck
      • anothercanuck: This article is proof

        MS showed what patents were being violated and offered to license the technology. The companies agreed and paid the licensing fee.

        There's your proof.

        Had there not been MS IP in Android, those companies would never have agreed to pay.
        toddybottom
      • RE: Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

        @anothercanuck
        Well, if you are so interested in learning about what patents are in question, then make your own Android device and start selling it. You will be automatically notified about it, plain and simple.
        Ram U
      • RE: Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

        @toddybottom<br>The issue isn't whether their IP is being violated. These days the only way to make a product without violating someone's IP is not to make the product in the first place. <br><br>Everyone knows the patent system is a mess. Some companies are taking advantage of this mess to stifle innovation and others are not. <br><br>I have to say, Microsoft's refusal to tell us what patents are supposedly being violated isn't helping me believe they aren't bogus patents. Surely, telling us would only be a good thing for them if their patents are strong.
        anono
      • anono: you are operating under a flawed assumption

        "I have to say, Microsoft's refusal to tell us what patents are supposedly being violated isn't helping me believe they aren't bogus patents."

        Microsoft doesn't care what you believe. Neither does anyone other than your mother.

        Microsoft showed the patents to the only people that count and you aren't it. The only people that count (not you) agreed that Android violated that IP and paid MS a fair and reasonable amount in order to license the IP.

        That's what counts.

        Your opinion on how bogus these are? Absolutely meaningless.
        toddybottom
      • anono: As for stifling innovation

        "Some companies are taking advantage of this mess to stifle innovation and others are not."

        Here you are correct. Some companies ask for a fair and reasonable amount of financial compensation for what they invented and then the product in question is put onto store shelves next to competing products and the consumer gets to choose which one they want to buy.

        Other companies go to court in order to have the product in question removed from the shelf so that their product is the only one on the shelf so that the consumer has no choice as to what to buy.

        I'll leave it up to you to decide which companies are which.
        toddybottom
      • RE: Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

        @toddybottom
        I'm assuming the company that you claim is only asking for fair compensation for their inventions is Microsoft. If I am wrong disregard everything else I wrote below.

        Are you denying that the patent office hands out a lot of bogus patents? If you don't then you are essentially willing blindly accept the legitimacy of patents? I feel it's pointless having a discussion on blind faith especially from those who openly claim they don't need to know anything by saying "Microsoft showed the patents to the only people that count and you aren't it. "
        anono
      • RE: Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

        @toddybottom<br>As for Apple. I don't like their lawsuits and I agree that a lot of them are obvious much like most patent lawsuits I hear about. However, they've been open and thus paving the way for people like me to criticize them as they see fit and hopefully helping law makers see the need for change.
        anono
      • anono, these companies apparently feel they are infringing on

        @William Farrell
        microsoft's patents, as they would not have agreed had they strong evidence to the contrary.

        The more companies that sign on actually solidifies my belief that these patents in question are quite legitimate.
        :|
        Tim Cook
      • &quot;MS showed what patents were being violated ...&quot;

        @toddybottom Did they? Where?
        ldo17
  • RE: Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

    After this you would be foolish to think that linux is not violating Microsoft's patents. Look at the sheer number of companies that signed deals. Sorry linux, if you want to play you got to pay.
    LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
    • RE: Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

      @LoverockDavidson_ If MS has all this wonderful mobile IP, why can't they build a sellable mobile device?
      BTW: Didn't you predict a year ago that WP7 would be #1 by now?
      anothercanuck
  • RE: Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

    Every company has to draw a line about who they are going after and claim patent infringment. On one side is pure patent trolls and on the other, more ethical companies such as google. I understand business is a cut throat world but there needs to be a line that is not crossed. At least Apple discloses the infringed patents (although I am no fan of them either) For me, because of this behavior (undisclosed patent shakedowns), I have decided to never purchase MS products or use their services again. I use my 8 year old copy of XP in a virtual machine and office installed by my employer only where absolutely necessary for my work. Up until a few years ago I used to actually be a defender and supporter of MS.
    deathjazz
    • RE: Microsoft gets PlayBook and Kindle Fire developer to pay to license its patents

      @willyampz
      lol whatever, Thanks for the life story but who cares.
      FlatbushE21