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Aluratek, Coby license Microsoft patents for Android

Device makers join majority of Android vendors in paying tribute to Redmond

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Two more makers of Android-powered devices have signed patent-licensing agreements with Microsoft, proving yet again that Windows Phone doesn't need to match Android's sales for Microsoft to eat part of its lunch.

The two latest companies to ink deals with Redmond are Aluratek and Coby Electronics, both of which manufacture low-cost tablets and e-readers based on Android. They join what Microsoft says are the majority of Android vendors in licensing Microsoft intellectual property for their use of Google's open source mobile OS.

"The licensing agreements with Aluratek and Coby Electronics demonstrate yet again that licensing is the path forward to resolving intellectual property disputes within the industry, and can be effective for companies of all sizes," Horacio Gutierrez, vice president of Microsoft's intellectual property group, told The Reg in an email.

As for details, Redmond is staying mum. Gutierrez declined to disclose the financial terms of either agreement, or even to identify which specific patents the two companies had licensed. All we really know is that Microsoft will receive royalties from both companies.

That's been pretty much par for the course in Microsoft's ongoing patent shakedown of Android vendors. Other companies that have reached agreements with Microsoft on similarly undisclosed terms include Acer, Casio, LG, and Samsung.

Microsoft hasn't been shy about suing alleged infringers, either, although it maintains that licensing is its preferred way to resolve such disputes.

But not every Android vendor is taking the situation lying down. Motorola Mobility, now a Google subsidiary, has blasted back at Microsoft, claiming the Redmond giant's Xbox 360 videogame console infringes Motorola patents related to streaming video. The result has been a protracted court battle that one judge has described as "arrogant" and "based on hubris".

"The court is well aware it is being used as a pawn in a global, industrywide business negotiation," US District Judge James Robart told Microsoft and Motorola at the end of one hearing.

It seems Aluratek and Coby thought it better to do their negotiations in private. ®

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