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24 April 2013, 10:32

ZTE licenses Android patents from Microsoft

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Microsoft says it now reaches eighty per cent of Android smartphones sold in the US after the announcement that the Chinese smartphone maker ZTE has signed a patent licensing agreement in connection with Android and Chrome OS devices. The deal follows last week's news that Foxconn's parent company Hon Hai Precision had signed a similar agreement. ZTE can now use the patented technologies when producing phones, tablets and other devices that use the Android or Chrome OS operating systems. As is usual with Microsoft's Android licensing deals, there was no information about which specific patents were involved and financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Microsoft's Corporate Vice President Horacio Gutierrez says in the announcement that his company has now "entered into license agreements with nearly all companies on the list of the world’s largest Android smartphone vendors and their manufacturers". The company claims that 80 per cent of all Android smartphones sold in the US and "a majority of those sold worldwide" are now covered by its licence agreements. Gutierrez characterises Microsoft's approach by saying the company sees intellectual property as a two-way street, having in the past paid out more than $4 billion to other companies in similar patent deals. In his view, the "patent wars" of the smartphone market could be avoided if companies were willing to license each other's technologies.

The only two major manufacturers of Android devices that have not signed patent licensing deals with Microsoft are the Google-owned Motorola Mobility and Chinese manufacturer Huawei Technologies. Gutierrez noted that the company had "worked for multiple years to reach an amicable solution with the few global companies who have yet to take a license," saying that those companies were "unwilling to address these issues". He stopped short of suggesting legal action, adding: "we’d prefer to consider these companies licensing partners" and that Microsoft hoped for resolution "in the near future".


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