Microsoft Nokia deal creates fears that Android manufacturers will be charged more in patent fees
Google and Samsung have become the latest tech companies to voice concerns that Microsoft’s takeover of Nokia’s handset business will result in higher parent licensing fees.
According to Bloomberg, the two have asked China’s Ministry of Commerce to ensure that the deal doesn’t result in higher fees for wireless technology.
Chinese manufacturers Lenovo, ZTE and Huawei have previously said they were worried the deal could increase Microsoft’s power over the smartphone market and that it may abuse its patents.
Microsoft Nokia fears
It is understood that the Ministry is likely to approve the acquisition, but it is not clear whether it will demand assurances that the completion of the deal won’t result in higher patent fees. The takeover has already received approval from US and European regulators, the latter of which say they will monitor Nokia’s behaviour after the deal is completed.
Currently, Nokia is charging a small number of Chinese phone manufacturers around two percent on the value of a device, adhering to a loose system for patent protection in the country. However the fear is that once Microsoft completes the takeover, it will either charge higher fees or demand official licensing contracts.
Microsoft believes that Android infringes a number of its patents and has spent the last few years aggressively pursuing individual licensing deals with manufacturers which rely on the operating system, rather than Google itself. These include Samsung, Acer, HTC and Foxconn, which claims it has protected all of its clients from legal action – not insignificant given that it manufactures 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronic devices.
Chip manufacturer Qualcomm is currently the subject of an antitrust probe in China over claims that it is abusing its dominant market position to overcharge on licence fees in the country. If found guilty, the company faces an up to $1 billion fine.
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