Microsoft and Dell sign Android, Chrome OS patent agreement

Microsoft and Dell sign Android, Chrome OS patent agreement

Summary: Microsoft and Dell have renewed their patent cross-licensing agreement, with Dell agreeing to pay Microsoft royalties for Dell's products running Android and Chrome OS.


Microsoft has signed a patent-licensing agreement with yet another company making Android and Chrome OS devices. The latest to sign on the dotted line is Dell.

But unlike many of the other Android and Chrome OS patent deals Microsoft has forged, the Microsoft-Dell relationship is a cross-patent licensing agreement.

The March 26 agreement "is the continuation of a nearly 30-year business relationship between Microsoft and Dell to deliver world-class technologies to consumers," according to Microsoft's press release.

"Through this arrangement, Microsoft and Dell have agreed to license each company’s applicable intellectual property related to Android and Chrome OS devices and Xbox gaming consoles. Under the terms of the agreement, they agreed on royalties for Dell’s products running the Android or Chrome platforms and on consideration to Dell for a license for Xbox gaming consoles," according to the companies.

Dell is selling the Chromebook 11, as well as several Android-based tablets.

As far as what "on consideration to Dell for a license for Xbox gaming consoles" means, Microsoft officials said they are not commenting beyond what is in the press release. I hear this does not mean Dell might be manufacturing and selling Xbox consoles. Instead, I think that phrase means that Microsoft is or may be licensing some unnamed intellectual property from Dell that it uses in Xbox consoles.

Microsoft has signed Android and Chrome OS patent agreements with more than 20 companies over the past few years. Microsoft has not disclosed publicly on which patents it claims Android and Chrome OS infringes.

Topics: Patents, Android, Dell, Google, Legal, Microsoft


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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  • How much does Microsoft get per device?

    • My guess is $4

      Based on Microsoft results.
  • Ah yes, the mysterious and invisible patents

    that Microsoft collects fees for without disclosing just what they are.

    Seems like a scam that relies on a grey area where the patents might or might not apply.
    • disclosed in private

      I'm sure they don't disclose to the public BUT to the companies paying royalties you can bet that they were given much more exclusive information including possible patents violated ...
    • "Seems like a scam...", don't think so.

      Have you seen anybody fight Microsoft in court on their patent claims? Nope. Have you seen anyone fight Apple, Nokia, etc on their patent claims? Yep, everyone of them.

      Patent litigation fights by these players cost serious coin. Microsoft is getting serious coin from these patent agreements without a fight from anybody, including Google. They don't even whimper about it.

      After so many signings, makes you wonder what's in that Android and now Chrome OS code.
      • without a fight from anybody, including Google.

        I don't see any MS - Google patent deal. From what I recall MS has never gone after Google on these patent claims just other Tech firms many whom do other business with MS. In Dell's case I can see where they have no choice since most of the sales they do are for Windows PCs.

        Why has MS never gone after Google on this?
        • You are very wrong.

          A couple of reasons, 1) Google hardly make any hardwares themselves. There is nothing to be claimed on if they are not selling a product with the technology. 2) Microsoft has also been friendly with Apple, which we later found out was due to a cross-licensing deal between the two giants, likely for mutual benefit. It would be logical to think something similar happens here too.
          • "I don't see any MS - Google patent deal."

            BoxOfParts you're correct there is no deal between MS and Google as xelsm indicates. I included Google because in spite of their acquisitions (e.g., Motorola), their Android and Chrome partners keep signing deals with MS. Some of these deals have been in place for years now and I have yet to see any of them crying or fighting to get out of them.

            Also, based on Google's history, they do like to collect patents. So, it's my guess that Google doesn't own any patents of value for which Android and/or the Chrome OS code and related device hardware are based.

            Meanwhile, Google and Samsung are lobbying (fighting) tooth and nail in Asia to delay and alter the Microsoft acquisition of the Nokia devices unit as being potentially unfair competition due to patents in spite of the deal's standing approval in North America, South America and Europe. I find that interesting.
          • Because cross-licensing is less expensive ...

            ... than a court-fight with Microsoft (or Apple).

            Google thought the Motorola deal would provide them a large enough portfolio of patents to protect themselves (and their customers) from Microsoft/Apple. They were wrong!
            M Wagner
          • ???? Who is wrong here.... Maybe you

            The Patents are about Software and Google ist Behind Androids as You know...
          • So? If they ask someone else to make ...

            ... a product FOR THEM, they damned well better have a license to use the desired technology.

            The need for cross-licensing is created by the dismal state of patent law. The law has never caught up with the technology and now that everything from genes to business processes are allowed to be patented, the corporate giants have to make sure that they own (or cross-license) enough patents to make themselves too-big-to-sue.
            M Wagner
      • Yes.

        Barns and Noble.

        Fought until Microsoft agreed to an investment and NDA.
        • Nice, think and wrote the Same

          Very mysterious!
    • Haha...

      Yeah like other companies are willing to pay just because MS makes some random claims.
      • works as long as the extortion is less than court fees.

        Only reason known.
        • Billions....

          The current speculation is that the fees are adding up to billions of dollars a year.

          Are you really willing to spin this situation to say that court costs would be more than billions a year?

          At some point you have to just admit the simple answer is that Android (via Google) stole patented tech for their operating system and that no one if fighting, because they know they cannot win.
      • Errrr

        Thanks for showing your anti-Microsoft [i.e. biased] colors.

        If a company agreed to pay the licenser it is because the licensee knows they are doing something wrong. Otherwise they would be in court.
    • The patents are rarely if ever publically revealed in such deals

      So, stop trying to make it out as if Microsoft is acting underhandedly, or (as some have suggested) that this is just extortion.
      Ian Easson
      • The patents are rarely if ever publically revealed in such deals

        The FAT patent deal seems to be the center piece of these patent deals and that has been hanging in the balance lately. If FAT patents are pulled or invalidated in the courts (think Germany lately) what else could be in MS's claim of patent violation.

        Seems that I read about court evidence lately that the concept FAT is based has prior use by an Amiga Computer geek before MS ever filed for the FAT patents.
        • Seems is the keyword

          Since no one really knows all you are doing is speculating and then coming to some conclusion based on no real information.

          If these patents had any bearing on prior art or could be invalidated, then these companies would go to trial. There is just no reasonable way to think these companies would collectively pay billions to avoid a court fight they could win.

          The simplest and most likely answer is that they cannot win.