Feeds

Microsoft: We've got HUNDREDS of patents on Android tech

Just ask the Chinese, they'll admit it

The essential guide to IT transformation

Microsoft has been hush-hush about specifics of the patent licensing deals it has been signing with Android device makers, but a new blog post suggests Redmond might be wielding a larger intellectual-property club against the open source smartphone OS than had previously been thought.

Buried in Tuesday's announcement that China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has approved Microsoft's purchase of Nokia's smartphone division was a surprising affirmation of Microsoft's patent rights.

"In reaching its decision, MOFCOM concluded after its investigation that Microsoft holds approximately 200 patent families that are necessary to build an Android smartphone," Microsoft deputy counsel David Howard wrote in the blog post.

That's quite a lot of patents. Little wonder, then, that dozens of Android vendors have reportedly signed licensing agreements with Redmond so far, including such big names as Dell, Huawei, Foxconn, Samsung, Sharp, and ZTE.

Most of those deals have reportedly involved royalty payments, which are believed to bring Microsoft hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year – likely even surpassing what it earns from Windows Phone.

We don't know the exact specifics of any of the patent deals, though, because neither Microsoft nor its new Android-flogging partners are telling. For the most part, we don't even know which patents Redmond is actually licensing.

In its deal with Sharp, Microsoft did reveal that the patents involved were related to the exFAT file system, and that Canon, Panasonic, Sanyo, and Sony have all licensed the same patents. That led to some speculation that exFAT might be what all of the other Android vendors are licensing, too – but Tuesday's revelation makes that seem unlikely.

Mind you, 200 patent families is by no means the biggest war chest in the ongoing mobile patent dust-up. Back in 2011, the Rockstar Consortium snapped up some 4,000 patents from the bankrupt Nortel, many of which were telecommunications-related. But then, Microsoft was one of the original members of that consortium – along with Apple, BlackBerry, EMC, Ericsson, and Sony – so it needn't worry about any of those patents coming back to bite it.

Redmond has also been remarkably effective in asserting its own patents. By some estimates, it earns as much as $8 for each Android phone sold.

Expect that to continue, including for devices sold in China. According to Howard, MOFCOM's decision in the matter of the Nokia merger "effectively adopts Microsoft's current patent licensing practices." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV
Pureed-carrot-in-ice cream C++ surprise
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Twitter: La la la, we have not heard of any NUDE JLaw, Upton SELFIES
If there are any on our site it is not our fault as we are not a PUBLISHER
Facebook, Google and Instagram 'worse than drugs' says Miley Cyrus
Italian boffins agree with popette's theory that haters are the real wrecking balls
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79
An era disrupted by the advent of the PC
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.