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Microsoft inks new patent pacts over Android...and Chrome

'Helps address IP issues' at Acer, Viewsonic

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Microsoft has inked patent-licensing deals with Acer and Viewsonic that cover devices running both Google's Android operating and its browser-based Chrome OS.

The Acer deal covers smartphones and tablets running Android, while the Viewsonic pact applies to tablets and phones running Android as well as Chrome OS. Officially, Chrome OS is designed for notebooks, but Google has long discussed the possibility of moving the platform to tablets, and Viewsonic is reportedly considering a tablet based on the OS, which essentially moves all applications and data into the browser.

Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing at Microsoft, says that with these new licensing pacts, Redmond is "helping" Acer and Viewsonic. "We are pleased that Acer is taking advantage of our industry-wide licensing program established to help companies address Android’s IP issues,” he said in a canned statement. “This agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercially reasonable arrangements that address intellectual property.”

But the word "help" is bit misleading. Microsoft has been known to sue Android device makers and sellers who do not agree to such deals, including Motorola, Barnes & Noble, Inventec, and Foxconn International.

Microsoft, Acer, and Viewsonic did not disclose the terms of their licensing deals, but Microsoft and Viewsonic did say that Redmond will receive royalties as part of their deal.

As Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said on Twitter on Thursday, the company has now inked six patent deals in the last 75 days, including pacts with HTC, Wistron, and Onkyo, and he indicated that more will follow "this fall". If they don't arrive this fall, we're sure that more lawsuits will. ®

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