Microsoft announced another win today in sorting out the patent and litigation mess that is Android. The announcement stated that it has signed an agreement with Compal Electronics, Inc. to cover Compal’s tablets, mobile phones, e-readers, and other devices that use Android or Chrome platforms. This will net Microsoft continual royalties from Compal’s products.
“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Compal, one of the leaders in the original design manufacturing, or ODM, industry. Together with the license agreements signed in the past few months with Wistron and Quanta Computer, today’s agreement with Compal means more than half of the world’s ODM industry for Android and Chrome devices is now under license to Microsoft’s patent portfolio,” said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, Intellectual Property Group at Microsoft. “We are proud of the continued success of our licensing program in resolving IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome.”.
The Microsoft on the Issues blog further elaborated on the context surrounding licensing patents for Android. The agreement with Compal is the tenth agreement Microsoft has reached for Android phones and tablets and 9th in the past 4 months. They provided a chart to show their relationships to other companies as either licensed (green) or in litigation (red).
Microsoft defends itself in the blog posting by stating how much it has paid in royalties to other patent holders for its own product line.
At Microsoft we’re building on our extensive experience with patent licensing. Over the past decade we’ve spent roughly $4.5 billion to license in patents from other companies. These have given us the opportunity to build on the innovations of others in a responsible manner that respects their IP rights.
Microsoft has 1,133 standing agreements over the past decade to lice their patents to other companies. Microsoft now has license agreements with Original Design Manufacturers that hold 55% of the world-wide ODM Market Share, including Compal, and agreements with the OEMs that hold 53% of the U.S. Android smartphone market share.
Friendly Microsoft puts it this way:
For those who continue to protest that the smartphone patent thicket is too difficult to navigate, it’s past time to wake up. As Microsoft has entered new markets from the enterprise to the Xbox, we’ve put together comprehensive licensing programs that address not only our own needs but the needs of our customers and partners as well. As our recent agreements clearly show, Android handset manufacturers are now doing the same thing. Ultimately, that’s a good path for everyone.