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Microsoft signs Motorola to Android patent pact – no, not THAT Motorola

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Motorola Solutions has become the latest maker of Android and Chrome OS devices to license related patents from Microsoft, joining dozens of other companies that have entered into similar agreements with Redmond.

Note, however, that we're not talking about Motorola Mobility, the Android smartphone maker that Google bought in 2011 and recently sold off to Lenovo.

Rather, this is the other half of the old Motorola that was left after Google acquired the company's consumer device business. You can think of it as analogous to the parts of Nokia that will be left over once Microsoft completes its gobble of the Nokia Devices & Services division on April 25.

Although Motorola Solutions is no longer in the business of selling mainstream handsets through the major mobile carriers, it does still offer a variety of specialized mobile devices for enterprises, including ruggedized tablets, "mission critical" handsets for public safety agencies, vehicle-mounted and wearable computers, and interactive kiosks.

Typically, Microsoft keeps the details of its Android patent licensing agreements secret. In a blog post announcing the latest deal on Monday, it didn't disclose what sort of payments Motorola Solutions would be making, although most such deals are believed to involve royalties.

It's hard to estimate just how much Redmond earns from these deals because its new financial reporting structure lumps its patent licensing revenue in with revenue from selling licenses for software such as Windows and Office. Still, the figure is thought to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year, at least.

Microsoft recently claimed to own "approximately 200 patent families that are necessary to build an Android phone," and just about every big-name Android vendor on the market has now caved in and bought a license, including the likes of HTC, LG, Samsung, and ZTE.

One notable hold-out, however, is Motorola Mobility – the other half of Old Motorola. Google never licensed Microsoft's Android patents when it owned the smartphone group, and there's been no word so far that Lenovo plans to do so now that it's taken the reins. ®

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