This afternoon Microsoft issued a statement regarding the recent intellectual property licensing agreement it struck with HTC. It appears as though Microsoft believes Android infringes on its smartphone patents. The agreement between HTC and Microsoft clearly shows how desperately the two companies need one another. Updated.Early this morning, HTC and Microsoft announced an intellectual property licensing agreement struck between the two companies. The agreement allows HTC to license Microsoft's patented technology for use in its mobile devices running the Android mobile platform. HTC will pay Microsoft royalties to use the patents. Neither Microsoft nor HTC said exactly what patents were covered under the agreement.
This afternoon, Microsoft issued a second statement that shines a bright light on what's happening here. Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft, said:
Microsoft has a decades-long record of investment in software platforms. As a result, we have built a significant patent portfolio in this field, and we have a responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to ensure that competitors do not free ride on our innovations. We have also consistently taken a proactive approach to licensing to resolve IP infringement by other companies, and have been talking with several device manufacturers to address our concerns relative to the Android mobile platform.In other words, Microsoft is coyly saying that if HTC hadn't agreed to this patent deal, it would have sued the company for patent infringement.
Microsoft doesn't come right out and say it, but I'd bet the company is actively pursuing similar licensing agreements with every other company that makes Android handsets. What I really want to know is, where is Google in all this? Google is the company that developed and distributes Android. Are Microsoft and Google still hashing things out behind closed doors, or is a major lawsuit on the way?
If HTC knew it was standing on solid ground, it would have told Microsoft to stuff it. It didn't. Microsoft and HTC need one another. HTC is one of the biggest licensers of Microsoft's Windows Mobile software. Microsoft can't afford to lose HTC as a paying customer, and HTC can't lose the opportunity to sell Windows Mobile devices.
Long story short, the two companies had to strike a deal on this issue, lest all-out war break out between smartphone makers.