Foxconn Signs Android Agreement With Microsoft

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Fxconn signs Microsoft’s patent licensing campaign against Android, which Google previously called ‘extortion’

Microsoft continues its controversial patent war against Android by signing a highly significant deal with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, otherwise known as Foxconn.

Microsoft signed the global patent licensing agreement on Wednesday with Hon Hai, according to Reuters.

The deal is designed to protect Hon Hai clients from patent claims arising from their use of the Android and Chrome operating systems, and means that Foxconn will now be paying Microsoft royalties on any devices it makes that run either Android or Chrome.

Licence Campaign

Microsoft has been controversially pursuing patent agreements with hardware makers, rather than Google itself, for several years now.

androidMicrosoft for its part contends that Android and Chrome infringe its patents, and has been waging a tireless legal campaign against those companies, in order to pressurise them to cough up patent payments and enter into a licence agreement with it.

“Foxconn’s clients don’t need to worry about infringing Microsoft’s patents anymore, because Foxconn has signed the agreement for them,” said Vincent Shih, chief legal officer of Microsoft Taiwan Corp, was reported as saying by Reuters.

Shih also revealed that more than 50 percent of the global contract makers that manufacture Android devices have signed similar agreements with Microsoft.

Microsoft is known to have already signed royalty deals with the number one smartphone maker Samsung, as well as Acer, Compal Electronics, General Dynamics Itronix, HTC, Onkyo, Quanta Computer, Velocity Micro, Viewsonic and Wistron.

This deal is highly significant, as Foxconn is estimated to manufacture 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronic devices. And some experts are convinced Google is on a losing streak regarding the matter.

“The fact that any Android and Chrome devices made by the Hon Hai group in the future will result in royalty payments to Microsoft is, in and of itself, bad news for Google, which has flatly denied that Android devices need a patent license from Microsoft even though its own Motorola Mobility subsidiary has in practical terms already lost its own patent dispute with Microsoft by a wide margin,” wrote patent expert Florian Mueller in a blog posting.

“The infringement issues to which Google exposes the Android ecosystem need to be addressed, and this costs money, which in turn may affect Android’s longer-term competitiveness,” he wrote.

Microsoft Extortion?

Google is known to be deeply unhappy at Microsoft’s aggressive pursuit of Android licensing deals with third party companies. And Barnes & Noble has previously called for federal regulators to investigate Redmond’s Android licensing policy for possible antitrust issues.

Google has even previously accused Microsoft of extortion over the matter.

Commenting on the Microsoft licensing deal with Samsung in September 2011, a Google spokesperson told eWEEK the following.

“This is the same tactic we’ve seen time and again from Microsoft. Failing to succeed in the smartphone market, they are resorting to legal measures to extort profit from others’ achievements and hinder the pace of innovation,” said the Google spokesperson. “We remain focused on building new technology and supporting Android partners.”

The use of the word “extort” underlines the frustration within Google.

This is not the only Android headache facing Google however. Earlier this month, FairSearch, the coalition of Google competitors that previously launched an ongoing complaint with the European Commission over Google’s search practices, broadened its allegations to cover Android, which the group claims is being used as a “Trojan horse” to promote Google’s mobile properties.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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