It's settlement season with three major deals (Rockstar-Huawei, Ericsson-Samsung, Nokia-HTC) having been struck during these past three weeks. Friday's settlement between Nokia and HTC was the 25th royalty-bearing patent license agreement to have been announced so far in connection with Google's Android mobile operating system. Most of those deals are primarily about Android and Nokia-HTC is mostly (though not exclusively) about Android, while Ericsson-Samsung is about it to only a limited extent.
HTC was first to take an Android patent license from Microsoft (in 2010), from Apple (in 2012) and now from Nokia (in 2014). While it has to pay royalties under each of these agreements, it at least has peace of mind with respect to those major patent holders. It can't be first anymore to license Rockstar's patents: Huawei was quicker to settle. But I believe it will do a deal with Rockstar rather soon as well. I wonder what the licensing situation between HTC and Ericsson is -- maybe they have a deal in place and never made noise about it, or maybe they still have something to sort out.
It's time to update my list of Android patent license deals:
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") (FOSS Patents coverage)
October 24, 2013: LG agrees to pay Vertical Computer Systems for another Android patent license (FOSS Patents coverage)
January 21, 2014: Huawei settles with Rockstar Consortium, will pay for Android's infringement of ex-Nortel patents (FOSS Patents coverage)
January 27, 2014: Ericsson and Samsung reach agreement on licensing terms (FOSS Patents coverage)
This list is inevitably non-exhaustive: most deals are never announced. Also, one could make an argument that Intellectual Ventures' license agreements with the likes of Samsung and HTC also should be added to the list. IV is claiming in its dispute with Motorola Mobility (where a mistrial occurred in Delaware last week, but that's not the end of the story) that Android infringes some of its countless patents.
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