Microsoft licenses patent portfolio to HTC Android phones

Microsoft announced that they will be licensing their patent portfolio to HTC for use in their Android phones-- yes, Android phones. In what appears to be a rather strange move, Microsoft said, “Microsoft Corp. and HTC Corp. have signed a patent agreement that provides broad coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio for HTC's mobile phones running the Android mobile platform. Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will receive royalties from HTC.”

While on the surface this looks like just another licensing agreement that will benefit Microsoft through licensing fees, there may be more at play here. TechCrunch suggest this may actually be a move by Microsoft to help HTC combat Apple in their recent patent infringement case. Microsoft has a sizable collection of patents which HTC could use in their defense, so both companies stand to gain from this deal.

It may be in Microsoft’s best interest to lend a helping hand to third parties they rely heavily upon, even if it indirectly helping one of their biggest competitors, Google. Unlike Apple, strong hardware partnerships are key to Microsoft, and HTC has quickly risen to the top of the smartphone handset market in recent years. With the release of Windows Phone 7 due this holiday, solidifying these kind of relationships is certain to be high on Microsoft’s list of priorities.

The full press release can be seen on Microsoft’s site.

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25 Comments

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I've no idea of legal workings, but wouldn't that mean that HTC only have the rights from now - aka all the devices made and sold before the date Microsoft approved the patent use would be covered, anything before that apple could still claim whatever it is they are fighting for? (I've given up trying to follow whos fighting for what in patent battles... >.> )

time will tell how this goes.. but im glad ms is helping out htc.. god bless apple when everyone turns on them... with the rapid development of android and it being so open for all developers... its only a matter of time..

your argument about them selling more winMo phones is null. Windows Mobile has been around for years, years longer than Android. Android has 5 phones in a year and a half from HTC alone. WinMo, 19 in 10 years. Dream, Magic, Hero, Incredible, Nexus One.

IMHO :HTC is playing unfair against android in pro of windows mobile.

a) hardware speaking, the best htc cellphone uses Windows Mobile.
b) HTC sell more windows mobile (19) cellphone than Android (4).
b) htc has delayed (or even they are refused) the update to Android 2.0 for most models.

Magallanes said,
IMHO :HTC is playing unfair against android in pro of windows mobile.

a) hardware speaking, the best htc cellphone uses Windows Mobile.
b) HTC sell more windows mobile (19) cellphone than Android (4).
b) htc has delayed (or even they are refused) the update to Android 2.0 for most models.


Actually, their phones for both are about equal now with the incredible. Also some of the older models have technical reasons for not getting android 2.x.

Edited by SharpGreen, Apr 28 2010, 2:06pm :

When Apple sued HTC I thought Google will stand by HTC, but surprisingly it is Microsoft who will do it, even at the expense of protecting Android. All this shows who is who. Microsoft has protected competitors, like when MS invested in Apple when it was in trouble, or by revamping the Office suite even after Apple's smearing campaign against Windows. They are more benevolent and easy to work with than Google or Apple. Of course, they will get royalties for every Android sold, so is a slap in the face to Google too.

Charles Keledjian said,
When Apple sued HTC I thought Google will stand by HTC, but surprisingly it is Microsoft who will do it, even at the expense of protecting Android. All this shows who is who. Microsoft has protected competitors, like when MS invested in Apple when it was in trouble, or by revamping the Office suite even after Apple's smearing campaign against Windows. They are more benevolent and easy to work with than Google or Apple. Of course, they will get royalties for every Android sold, so is a slap in the face to Google too.

Google is standing by HTC as well, they announced it within hours of Apple announcing the lawsuit.

Joey H said,

Google is standing by HTC as well, they announced it within hours of Apple announcing the lawsuit.

Only in words, not actions. I don't see Google trying to discredit any of Apples patents to help HTC or Android in general. If you call simply saying that they think Apples suit is wrong/baseless as support, then man, I dunno what to say? lol?

GP007 said,

Only in words, not actions. I don't see Google trying to discredit any of Apples patents to help HTC or Android in general. If you call simply saying that they think Apples suit is wrong/baseless as support, then man, I dunno what to say? lol?

there's nothing really for them to say till it hits trial, Google unlike Apple isn't in the market of smearing their competitors, doesn't mean they aren't backing HTC

Charles Keledjian said,
When Apple sued HTC I thought Google will stand by HTC, but surprisingly it is Microsoft who will do it, even at the expense of protecting Android. All this shows who is who. Microsoft has protected competitors, like when MS invested in Apple when it was in trouble, or by revamping the Office suite even after Apple's smearing campaign against Windows. They are more benevolent and easy to work with than Google or Apple. Of course, they will get royalties for every Android sold, so is a slap in the face to Google too.

1) I don't know if they get royalties for every Android device.

2) Google couldn't help HTC as they also don't have the patents to protect themselves or HTC from Apple, Microsoft does.

Microsoft's patents could even seriously hurt the iPhone if Microsoft ever wanted to take an offensive approach to patents. Microsoft has patents on things that have been considered 'common' for several years now and appear in all OSes, even the iPhone and OS X.

For example, just the way they handle drag and drop of text in OS X and spell checking infringe on Microsoft inventions that are patented and do seem rather common today, but weren't when introduced by Microsoft years ago.

I do wonder though if Apple realizes this and this has kept them from waking the sleeping giant on patents (Microsoft) or if the deal in the 90s when Microsoft bailed out Apple that also signed patent protection between the companies still keeps them from going after each other directly.

The thing is, Microsoft is primly a software company. There partners are integral to how the company works. Creating partnerships like this can't be a bad thing!

wow so microsoft is getting to be better in the public eye and apple is slowly becoming just like microsoft when everybody and their mother hated them.

majortom1981 said,
wow so microsoft is getting to be better in the public eye and apple is slowly becoming just like microsoft when everybody and their mother hated them.

True, except that people only ever really hated Microsoft through a self-inflicted sense of entrapment. The past 20 years has been a massive rush by the human race to computers, and Microsoft was initially just the most affordable solution (other DOS's early on were hundreds of dollars, MS was pocket change). People complained about the snowball this started, but in reality, it was MS's competitors that dropped the ball like it was the WNBA, utterly failing to compete.


Really, it was common in the 80s. Atari dropped the ball with Nintendo, Nintendo dropped the ball with Sony, IBM's offices were running MS-DOS when they had their own version (yay confidence!), and OS/2 self-destructed. Apple's horrific 90s was their own fault, and Microsoft got hated on for being affordable (to this day, ultimate editions of Windows are cheaper than several OSes in the 1980s) enough to wind up on top.


People hate on Apple because of cultishness and genuine arrogance. People hated MS because they felt stuck with them. When x and y quit, we all hate on z for not being x and y. At least z wasn't a quitter.

Edited by Joshie, Apr 28 2010, 6:43pm :

Can't say this is surprising, considering the hard time Apple is giving HTC recently. Be interesting to see what comes out this in the future for sure!

What this means is that Microsoft will be paid for every Android phone HTC sells which is pretty much the majority of Android phones. Imagine Apple having to do the same....

Deviate_X said,
What this means is that Microsoft will be paid for every Android phone HTC sells which is pretty much the majority of Android phones. Imagine Apple having to do the same....

Now now, unless you read the terms of the agreement (which I doubt are public...) don't go assuming microsoft gets a piece of every android phone. Only those that use a Microsoft patent, and it's probably a one-time royalty per series (eg, HTC Hero) much like how royalties work for theater productions.