Microsoft, Compal sign patent deal covering Android, Chrome

Microsoft said that makers of over half of all Android devices are now its licensees

Microsoft has signed a patent agreement with Taiwan's Compal Electronics that provides coverage under its patent portfolio for Compal's tablets, mobile phones, e-readers and other consumer devices running Android or the Chrome platform, the company said Sunday.

As a result of the agreement, companies accounting for over half of all Android devices have now entered into patent license agreements with Microsoft, its general counsels, Brad Smith and Horacio Gutierrez said in a blog post.

More than half of the global contract manufacturer industry for Android and Chrome devices is now under license to Microsoft's patent portfolio, following the agreement with Compal and earlier ones with two other contract manufacturers, Wistron and Quanta Computer, Microsoft said.

The company claims similar success for its licensing program with companies producing devices under their own brand, which it calls original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Microsoft announced last month a cross-license patent agreement with Samsung Electronics that gives Microsoft royalties for Samsung's mobile phones and tablets running the Android mobile platform.

Following the agreement with Samsung, Microsoft now has license agreements in place with OEMs that account for 53 percent of all Android smartphones in the U.S., the general counsels said.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Microsoft said the licensing deal with Compal, its tenth around Android so far, would bring it royalties, but did not provide details.

Microsoft has offered a licensing program to makers of Android devices to avoid being sued by the company for allegedly infringing its patents, which was embraced last year by HTC for its mobile phones running Android.

The company's "license-first" approach hasn't always worked, and in March it filed legal action against Barnes & Noble, and its device makers Foxconn International Holdings and Inventec for alleged patent infringements by Nook devices which run Android.

Microsoft also has ongoing litigation with Motorola Mobility. Google said in August that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Motorola for about US$12.5 billion

"Our firm view remains, however, that licensing is the best way forward for the industry, and we will continue to prefer the licensing path to litigation," Gutierrez said in March.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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