Foxconn and Microsoft Agree to Broad Android/Chrome Patent Deal

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 17, 2013

As is being widely reported today, Microsoft has signed a patent deal with Foxconn -- one of world's biggest consumer electronics makers -- to draw fees for every device produced by Foxconn that runs Android or the Chrome operating system. According to BBC News, "Microsoft says that Google's code makes use of innovations it owns." These patent arrangements that Microsoft has going are widely criticized as liens on the Linux ecosystem and roundabout attempts to thwart the remarkable success of Android, as Microsoft's own mobile strategy has fallen short of the mark.

In fact, there are reports that Microsoft collects royalties from roughly half of all Android devices produced. Google has long since weighed in on the issue, and certainly doesn't agree with Microsoft's claims.

In a post on Google's official blog that includes updates from as far back as 2011,

"Microsoft's objective has been to keep from Google and Android device-makers any patents that might be used to defend against their attacks."

Drummond specifically made reference to the attempt to acquire many Novell patents by a Microsoft-led consortium. The U.S. Department of Justice has previously weighed in at length on these matters, as you can see here.

In an announcement of the Foxconn patent deal from Microsoft, there is a statement from Hon Hai, which owns Foxconn:

“We are pleased that the list of companies benefitting from Microsoft’s Android licensing program now includes the world’s largest contract manufacturer, Hon Hai,” said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of the Intellectual Property Group at Microsoft. “By licensing both brand name companies and their contract manufacturers, we have successfully increased the overall effectiveness and global reach of the program.”

Is that list of companies really "benefitting" from the program? According to Microsoft: "The patent agreement is another example of the important role intellectual property (IP) plays in ensuring a healthy and vibrant technology ecosystem."

It seems doubtful that Google sees things this way.