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License or pay settlement, that's what Microsoft's lawyers are telling China's Huawei

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has drawn a great deal of flack from critics like Google Inc. (GOOG) for trying to force licensing on Android handset makers.  

The company insists that it’s merely trying to protect its inventions.  However, some question the fact that it's trying to force both manufacturers and OEMs to pay two separate fees on every Android device, in essence double-dipping on licenses.  Others point to the fact that some of its patents are on seemingly obvious software, such as loading images before text or displaying an animated loading icon when loading internet images.  These patents were largely granted during the lax late 90s and early 00s period at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The latest victim of Microsoft's patent wrath is Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.  Rather than choose Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform, Huawei -- like most other manufacturers -- opted to primarily back Google's free, advertising supported Android platform.

In an interview with The Guardian, Huawei's chief marketing officer Victor Xu confirms that Microsoft is lusting after his company's Android profits.  He comments, "Yes, Microsoft has come to us.  We always respect the intellectual property of companies. But we have 65,000 patents worldwide too. We have enough to protect our interests. We are a very important stakeholder in Android."

Huawei Vision
Huawei is among the biggest Chinese Android OEMs. Pictured: Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" Huawei Vision [Source: Huawei via the Guardian]

Thus far Microsoft has forced two of the three largest Android handset manufacturers -- HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930) -- into licensing agreements, along with a host of smaller sellers [1][2][3].  Samsung was arguably the biggest surprise, as it was an industry veteran with thousands of patents which some believed would be enough to offer it protection from the licensing demands.

Shenzhen-based Huawei has seen most of its past revenue from mobile network infrastructure sales.  The company is the world's second largest maker of mobile network infrastructure behind Sweden's Ericsson SpA (STO:ERIC B) and ahead of France's Alcatel-Lucent (EPA:ALU) and Nokia Siemens (a joint venture between Finland's Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1V) and Germany's Siemens AG (ETR:SIE)).  

But Huawei has grand aspirations for dominating the smartphone market, as well.  Mr. Xu states, "Over the next three years we are aiming to be in the top five smartphone makers, and in the top three in the next five years.  We have established very aggressive targets in the market."

Huawei Girl
Huawei dreams of becoming a top phonemaker. [Source: VR-Zone]

Huawei indicates that "negotiations are in progress" regarding a licensing agreement with Microsoft.  Huawei is looking to aggressively expand worldwide, so it must be wary of the more pro-plaintiff intellectual property atmospher outside of China.

Source: Guardian



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RE: Patent Trolls
By kleinma on 11/8/2011 12:42:29 PM , Rating: 0
If you owned some software patents you probably wouldn't hate them. Way I see it, most people who complain about software patents simply don't have any IP at stake when it comes to them existing or not. All the "obvious should be thrown out" patents aside, which I am sure all large tech companies own a few of, android can't just grab and borrow from wherever the hell it wants and offer the thing for free to vendors to muscle into market share. Which is only something they can do because they monitize the service portions of it and force serveral google services onto the devices in order for the devices to be useful at all.

Don't get me wrong, I own an android phone, and for the most part I enjoy it, but that doesn't mean to me that I think they shouldn't have to license IP from companies who own it, whether it is MS, Apple, or someone else.

I don't know the figure, but Microsoft pays a shit load of money in licenses to use other IP in their own stuff, have been forced to pay out million when found to be infringing (willful or not) on someone elses IP, and they have tons of cross license agreements to offer their IP in exchange for the other companies IP usage.


"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner














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