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Microsoft, Foxconn sign Android patent deal

Posted: 19 Apr 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:patent  Android  Chrome  intellectual property 

Microsoft Corp. has entered into a worldwide patent licensing agreement with Hon Hai Precision Co., the parent company of world’s largest contract manufacturer Foxconn.

According to Microsoft, the deal provides broad coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for devices running the Android and Chrome OS, including smartphones, tablets and televisions. Microsoft would receive unspecified royalties from Hon Hai under the agreement.

Foxconn, known for making products for Apple Inc., is estimated to manufacture more than 40 per cent of the world's consumer electronics.

“We are pleased that the list of companies benefitting from Microsoft’s Android licensing programme now includes the world’s largest contract manufacturer, Hon Hai,” said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of the Intellectual Property Group at Microsoft. “By licensing both brand name companies and their contract manufacturers, we have successfully increased the overall effectiveness and global reach of the programme.”

"We recognise and respect the importance of international efforts that seek to protect intellectual property," said Samuel Fu, director of the intellectual property department at Hon Hai, in a statement. "The licensing agreement with Microsoft represents those efforts and our continued support of international trade agreements that facilitate implementation of effective patent protection."

Microsoft has been aggressive in threatening legal action against handset OEMs perceived as violating its massive software IP portfolio. Firms such as HTC Corp., Acer, LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. have already agreed to pay Microsoft royalties on Android-based phones. Motorola Mobility, now a subsidiary of Google, remains a holdout and is fighting Microsoft in court over patents.

“Foxconn may have agreed to the deal because it eventually hopes to become an OEM, making its own branded products. HTC took such a path—starting as a contract manufacturer before eventually making its own successful handsets,” Jim McGregor, founder and principal analyst at Tirias Research.

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