Microsoft strikes another Android patent licensing deal

By on January 12, 2012, 12:20 PM

Microsoft announced today it has signed a patent-licensing deal with LG covering the company's tablets, mobile phones and other devices running Android or Chrome OS. This marks the company's 11th such arrangement with Android device makers, including HTC, Samsung and Acer, and means that more than 70 percent of all Android smartphones sold in the U.S. are now paying royalties to Microsoft -- though exactly how much remains unknown.

Google offers Android as an open-source operating system for mobile devices but Microsoft claims it infringes on technology developed by them. Apple also claims Android-based device manufacturers violate its patents and is battling the likes of Samsung and HTC in courtrooms around the world. However, rather than engaging in lengthy and expensive lawsuits, Microsoft has generally preferred to give manufacturers the option of a licensing deal for the patents Android allegedly infringes.

"We are pleased to have built upon our longstanding relationship with LG to reach a mutually beneficial agreement," said Horacio Gutierrez, deputy general counsel in Microsoft's intellectual property group, adding that they are proud of the continued success "in resolving the IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome OS."

Back in September, a note from Goldman Sachs's tech analyst team suggested Microsoft was getting somewhere between $3-$6 per Android device sold and estimated the company would make around $444 million in licensing fees between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.

Right now Motorola Mobility is the only major Android smartphone manufacturer in the U.S. without a license from Microsoft, and the two are battling it out in court at the same time that Motorola Mobility is being acquired by Google for $12.5 billion. The acquisition will add an estimated 24,000 patents to Google's portfolio. Whether that will give Google enough ammo to defend its mobile platform and partners remains to be seen.

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