Microsoft does second Android patent deal in a week
General Dynamics Itronix and Velocity Micro have both agreed to pay Microsoft royalties for unspecified patents related to their manufacture of devices using Google's open source Android operating system. General Dynamics Itronix is the maker of rugged computers and offers an Android based device called the GD300. Velocity Micro, a PC vendor, makes an Android powered e-Reader called the CruzReader. Both companies will pay Microsoft royalties related to these andd any future devices that they manufacture and sell. Microsoft presents both the deals as "another example of the important role intellectual property (IP) plays in ensuring a healthy and vibrant IT ecosystem".
Details of what patents are involved in the deal have not been disclosed in the same way that details of last year's patent deal between Microsoft and HTC have been withheld. Analysts believe that HTC pays Microsoft $5 per device in royalties. This leads other analysts to believe the company is currently making more money from licensing patents for Android than from its own Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system.
Microsoft has shown it is prepared to take legal action over Android device related patents. In October 2010 it sued Motorola over patents in a suit that references alledged infrigments of patents for synchronisation of email, calendars and contacts, display of signal strength and battery status, and, in later legal actions, on context sensitive menus and filesystems. Those cases are still ongoing.
In March this year, Microsoft sued Barnes&Noble and the two companies who produced its Nook e-Reader using similar patents and claims to the Motorola case. That case is also ongoing. Microsoft does appear to be avoiding taking on Google directly, unlike Oracle, and using its patent arsenal on device makers who use the Android platform.
Note: An earlier version of this article suggested there was a lack of clarity in Microsoft's claims as to whether they addressed Android directly. The H has now seen the ITC claim exhibit documentation which specifically identifies source code from the Android OSP and use of standard Android capabilities as part of the infringement.