HTC to Pay Microsoft Royalties on Android Phones

As we predicted in March, Microsoft has strong-armed HTC into signing a licensing agreement to pay Microsoft royalties for HTC’s Android phones.

The good news here is that an Apple-style lawsuit is unlikely now that HTC has agreed to cough up the money. The bad news is that we’ll all be paying Microsoft a bit for each HTC Android phone we buy.

This is the latest in a string of licensing agreements Microsoft has reached with companies that use Linux-based code, which Microsoft claims to hold patents on. Since no one to date has challenged Microsoft on these claims, it’s unclear whether they would hold up in court.

  • solution: make the software free to download and sell the phones with no operating system installed. would this work?

  • Adam

    Guess I won't be buying a phone made by HTC. If you take issue with companies like Microsoft, Apple and Adobe doing everything in their power to enslave you with their proprietary bits, do everything in your power to reduce/eliminate your dependency and use Free Software instead.

  • Fiction

    Are these the so-called Linux licenses it bought from SCO, after Novell stated it never sold them any licenses?

    If its for the Exchange sync software, that I can understand.

  • Adam

    Software that can be obtained at no cost is not the same thing as free software. Please see for additional information.

  • hazydave

    I don't think we know yet just what this is all about.

    We all know Apple came after HTC. And it may well be that every patent they got hit with is bogus, but once a patent is granted, it's assumed to be correctly granted. Only in extreme cases does the PTO overrule a patent outside of a trial… though more often these days than in the past.

    It's terribly likely HTC bosses, engineers, and laywers sat down to figure out a plan. I know this well… I was one of those engineers at another company, some years back. There are a couple of possible outcomes. One is simple… they found they violated many more Microsoft patents, and figured they'd be smart and head this off before they got hit with an even larger suit. That's not likely, but possible.

    Another possibility.. they found Microsoft IP that covered the same things Apple was suing for. When a patent is granted, the applicant of course likes to claim it covers nothing; once granted, it of course covers everything. It's quite possible that Apple has some very narrow patents they're trying to hold over HTC (and eventually, others) and HTC found that most of Apple's claims were actually in Microsoft patents. That's an easy-out on the Apple problem, but they also don't want to create a Microsoft problem in the process.

    And some of that might be Microsoft. A company has several motives for patent suits and deals. If Apple's trying to use their patents to block or even create FUD in the Android market, they're not going to settle cheap, or quickly. The case I helped on was IBM coming after my company, Commodore. IBM was making some money from patent licensing, to be sure. But they were just as nervous about others getting patents on them… they were the biggest target on the planet at the time. You paid the maximum licensing fee at 3 or more patents, and of course, fees depended on any cross licensing agreements as well. If Microsoft is in that mode, HTC may be paying little or nothing, they're now cross licensed with Microsoft, they're safe from Apple, and the next guys who get chased by Apple know were to go.

    A big maybe, sure. But given the timing, I'll bet this deal had everything to do with the Apple lawsuit.

    • PaulR

      Thanks for that it helps to make sense of the whole thing.

  • kcx

    MS has claimed it has numerous patents that have been infringed for ages. But they never tell anyone what those patents are. I don't mind them wanting money for code they (and only they) own, but not allowing Linux/Android the chance to replace it is pathetic. It needs to go to court.
    Also, most of these patents must be from the 80's. When do they expire?

  • this is not the best solution man.. what happened between ms and google?

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