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Acer, maker of the popular Iconia Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet has become the latest device maker to cave in to Microsoft's licensing demands.  (Source:
Acer, Viewsonic agree to pay Microsoft's toll

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has already inked lucrative licensing details with General Dynamics Corp. (GD) (owners of Itronix, a maker of rugged tablets) [source]; Velocity Micro, Inc. [source]; Onkyo Corp. [source] (JSD:6628); and HTC Corp. (SEO:066570) [source].  It's pressuring Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO:005930) into a similar licensing deal.  Reportedly it wants up to $15 per device sold.  

So what do all these companies have in common?  They all use Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android operating system and all are afraid that Microsoft may make good on its threat to sue them if they don't pay licensing fees.

Now Taiwan's Acer Inc. (
TPE:2353) has agreed [press release] to a similar licensing arrangement, though it declined to disclose how much it had agreed to pay per device.  Acer makes the popular Android 3.x "Honeycomb" Iconia tablet.

Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft comments, "We are pleased that Acer is taking advantage of our industry wide licensing program established to help companies address Android's IP issues. This agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercially reasonable arrangements that address intellectual property."

Of course of amiable phrasing "Help... address Android's IP issues" translates roughly to "forced to pay under threat of lawsuit".

Google does offer Android to device makers for free, so licensing isn't game over to Android manufacturers unlike Apple, Inc.'s (
AAPL) lawsuit campaign [1][2][3][4][5][6], which simply looks to ban Android devices from the market.  However, it does shift the balance of power slightly in the favor of Microsoft, who is trying to push its own Windows Phone 7 smartphone operating system on the masses, by making it less profitable to make Android devices.

Many more manufacturers will like opt the route of Acer and HTC -- simply paying Microsoft's demanded toll.

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RE: MSFT Patent
By drycrust3 on 9/8/2011 3:33:09 PM , Rating: 3
Windows phone 7 can be a complete failure and microsoft will still make tons of money on everyone else.

The real problem here is that since Android was forked from the Linux kernel, then maybe some of those patents Microsoft own cover things that appear in other Linux based operating systems.
One thing of interest is that the competing search engine giant Baidu has produced a fork of Android, called Baidu Yi, and now Dell seems to be planning a cell phone for the Chinese market based on this. It will be interesting to see if it avoids the Microsoft patents or not.

RE: MSFT Patent
By bupkus on 9/8/2011 4:21:49 PM , Rating: 2
China admitting it is stealing? Ha! Now that's funny.

RE: MSFT Patent
By drycrust3 on 9/8/2011 4:57:48 PM , Rating: 2
Not necessarily, Baidu could have got a version of Android that was free and open source and released under the GPL licence (i.e. any version released between October 2008 and March 2011), and then they are free to alter it and release it as their own (provided it also has a GPL licence).

This is why there a hundreds of Linux distributions, because people are allowed to get one of the main ones, e.g. Ubuntu, add other software released under the same GPL licence, and then release it as their own version e.g. Linux Mint.

RE: MSFT Patent
By sprockkets on 9/8/2011 10:46:15 PM , Rating: 2
It's actually easier than that. Aside from the kernel, Android is Apache licensed, more akin to BSD.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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