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

Quanta Computer, a designer/developer that helped create the RIM PlayBook and Amazon Kindle Fire products, has signed a patent-licensing deal with Microsoft.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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