ZTE Joins Foxconn in Signing Android, Chrome OS Patent Deal with Microsoft

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 24, 2013

As I reported last week, Microsoft signed a far-reaching patent deal with Foxconn -- one of the 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," and many were concerned that the Foxconn patent deal would set a precedent for more deals like it.

Sure enough, Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's Corporate VP & Deputy General Counsel of Legal & Corporate Affairs has put up a blog post confirming that ZTE, another one of the largest global smartphone companies, has agreed to patent license agreements with Microsoft pertaining to "phones, tablets, computers and other devices running Android and Chrome OS."

According to the post from Gutierrez:

"The ZTE and Foxconn agreements show once more that technology companies around the world, including some of the world’s largest and fastest growing manufacturers anchored in China, recognize licensing is an effective way to share technology and build on each other’s work, accelerating the pace of innovation and delighting customers. Much of the current litigation in the so called “smartphone patent wars” could be avoided if companies were willing to recognize the value of others’ creations in a way that is fair."

That's not the way Google has seen all of this. 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.

What has become very clear is that some of the very biggest players in the smartphone business would rather pay Microsoft to play in the Android race instead of opposing the company's position. 

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."

Microsoft's Gutierrez adds: "We have worked for multiple years to reach an amicable solution with the few global companies who have yet to take a license, but so far they have been unwilling to address these issues in a fair manner. We’d prefer to consider these companies licensing partners and remain hopeful they can join the rest of the industry in the near future."