Microsoft reaches licensing deal on HTC phones

Apr 28, 2010

(AP) -- Microsoft Corp. says it has patents covering phones that use Google Inc.'s Android software - but unlike Apple Inc., Microsoft has reached a licensing deal rather than suing over the software.

Microsoft said Wednesday that it has reached an agreement that will give HTC Corp., a Taiwanese company that is a major maker of Android phones, the rights to use technology covered by Microsoft's patents in those phone. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deal comes a month after Apple sued HTC and accused the company of violating patents related to the iPhone.

HTC, which has said it will defend itself against Apple's claims, is a key partner for Google in its expansion into mobile services. Android has intensified the competition between Google and companies such as Apple and Microsoft.

But Apple and Microsoft are dealing with HTC, not Google, because the device maker, not the maker of software that runs on it, historically has been the focus for settling intellectual-property disputes.

HTC started out as a maker of phones based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile software, but as that operating system has lost favor among buyers, it's focused more efforts on Android.

Microsoft did not say what technology is covered in the licensing agreement with HTC. Technology analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group said it is unlikely there's any overlap with the patents Apple is suing over. Microsoft and Apple have licensed each other's patents, and Enderle said if there were any question of overlapping patents around "multitouch" or other smart phone technologies, it would have been hashed out already.

That means the deal between Microsoft and HTC for Android phones wouldn't likely give HTC any extra protection against the lawsuit Apple filed. But HTC is also expected to produce phones for Microsoft's next mobile system, Windows Phone 7, which is set to reach consumers before the holidays. Wednesday's licensing deal with Microsoft would protect HTC against another Apple lawsuit over a Windows phone, Enderle said.

Both the Apple lawsuit and HTC's deal with Microsoft may make Android less attractive to other device makers. Part of Android's appeal to companies such as Motorola Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. was its price: free. Enderle called the legal battle and the licensing fees "hidden costs" to choosing to make Android phones.

"The Apple suit was the first wake-up call," Enderle said.

Apple's lawsuit claims HTC infringes on 20 iPhone patents. It's not clear whether Apple approached HTC with a licensing offer before filing its lawsuit. Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said he had no further details.

Explore further: Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

2.1 /5 (17 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google backs HTC in Apple patent suit

Mar 03, 2010

Google on Wednesday threw its backing behind HTC, maker of the Internet giant's Nexus One smartphone, after Apple accused the Taiwan company of infringing on iPhone patents.

Taiwan's HTC denies infringing iPhone patents

Mar 03, 2010

Taiwan's leading smartphone maker High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) on Wednesday denied infringing iPhone patents held by Apple after the US technology giant filed a lawsuit in the United States.

Nokia expands patent dispute beyond Apple iPhone

Dec 29, 2009

(AP) -- Nokia Corp. is broadening a legal dispute it already has with Apple Inc. over the iPhone, saying almost all of the company's other products also violate the Finnish phone maker's patents.

Recommended for you

China's Xiaomi raises more than $1 bn in funding

8 hours ago

China's top smartphone seller Xiaomi Corp. is raising more than $1 billion in a fresh round of funding, a move which would raise its valuation above $45 billion, a report said Sunday.

Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

Dec 20, 2014

Japan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. It wasn't about hacking. It was about the company's struggling tablet business.

Sony faces 4th ex-employee lawsuit over hack

Dec 20, 2014

A former director of technology for Sony Pictures Entertainment has sued the company over the data breach that resulted in the online posting of his private financial and personal information.

Sony tells AFP it still plans movie release

Dec 20, 2014

Sony Pictures boss Michael Lynton denied Friday the Hollywood studio has "caved" by canceling the release of "The Interview," and said it still hoped to release the controversial film.

2012 movie massacre hung over 'Interview' decision

Dec 19, 2014

When a group claiming credit for the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment threated violence against theaters showing "The Interview" earlier this week, the fate of the movie's big-screen life was all but ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.