The Google-led group of Android device makers sued on Halloween 2013 over former Nortel patents fails to present a united front to the Rockstar Consortium, a patent holding firm jointly owned by Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft and Sony (see this IAM article). The first one of the seven Android OEMs, China's Huawei, has already accepted to pay up. On Tuesday (January 21), Huawei, the Rockstar Consortium and the latter's MobileStar Technologies subsidiary filed a joint motion to dismiss with prejudice Rockstar's claims against Huawei (this post continues below the document):
While the motion to dismiss does not explicitly state that the parties have settled, it would be utterly unrealistic to believe that Rockstar would let Huawei use those patents without a royalty-bearing license. Whatever the basis of this settlement may be, a "freebie" it's certainly not.
This is already the second time over the last couple of months that Huawei has become the first defendant to settle litigation targeting multiple companies. Huawei also reached an agreement recently with standard-essential patent (SEP) troll InterDigital to resolve the dispute through arbitration of the royalty fee. It's possible that the settlement with Rockstar also involves arbitration of license fees, but the parties may already have agreed on financial terms.
The remaining defendants, besides Google, are Samsung, ZTE, LG, HTC, Pantech, and ASUSTeK. Google is trying to get those lawsuits transferred out of the Eastern District of Texas to the Northern District of California. The Huawei settlement is a problem for the remaining defendants because it suggests to the court and possibly one day to a jury (or multiple juries) that Rockstar's infringement allegations have merit. It increases the likelihood of other "defections" from the Google-led defensive alliance.
23rd announced or discoverable Android patent license deal
Huawei's settlement with the Rockstar Consortium
April 27, 2010: Microsoft Announces Patent Agreement With HTC
June 27, 2011: Microsoft and General Dynamics Itronix Sign Patent Agreement ("Agreement will cover General Dynamics Itronix devices running the Android platform.") (FOSS Patents coverage)
September 28, 2011: Microsoft and Samsung Broaden Smartphone Partnership ("Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will receive royalties for Samsung's mobile phones and tablets running the Android mobile platform.") (FOSS Patents coverage)
April 30, 2012: Barnes & Noble and Microsoft Form Strategic Partnership to Advance World-Class Digital Reading Experiences for Consumers" ("Barnes & Noble and Microsoft have settled their patent litigation, and moving forward, Barnes & Noble and Newco will have a royalty-bearing license under Microsoft's patents for its NOOK eReader and Tablet products.") (FOSS Patents coverage)
July 9, 2012: Microsoft and Coby Electronics Sign Patent Agreement Covering Android and Chrome Based Devices ("Although the contents of the agreement have not been disclosed, the parties indicate that Microsoft will receive royalties from Coby under the agreement.")
November 7, 2012: Microsoft Signs Licensing Agreements for exFAT With Sharp, Sigma, NextoDi, Black Magic and Atomos Global ("The agreements cover Sharp Android tablets, Sigma and NextoDi high-end cameras and accessories, and Black Magic and Atomos Global broadcast-quality video-recording devices.")
- December 11, 2012: Microsoft and Hoeft & Wessel AG Sign Patent Agreement ("Agreement will cover Hoeft & Wessel devices running the Android platform.") (FOSS Patents coverage)
April 16 (U.S.)/17 (Asia/Europe), 2013: Microsoft and Foxconn Parent Hon Hai Sign Patent Agreement For Android and Chrome Devices ("Agreement provides broad coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio to manufacturer of more than 40 percent of the world's consumer electronics.") (FOSS Patents coverage)
April 23 (U.S.)/24 (Asia/Europe), 2013: With ZTE, Most Major Android Makers Choose Licensing ("Under the agreement, Microsoft grants ZTE a license to Microsoft’s worldwide patent portfolio for ZTE phones, tablets, computers and other devices running Android and Chrome OS")
January 21, 2014: Huawei settles with Rockstar Consortium, will pay for Android's infringement of ex-Nortel patents
There are probably numerous other Android patent license deals in place that just weren't announced.
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