This morning I read on Twitter that "Motorola" had taken a license to Microsoft's patents covering Android and Chrome devices. At first sight it appeared to be a settlement, which surprised me because I had attended a Microsoft v. Motorola Mobility preliminary injunction hearing in Munich on Thursday, where counsel for either party was unaware (when the court asked about the prospects for a settlement) of substantive progress toward a license agreement. Counsel for Motorola Mobility said that his client "might perhaps take a royalty-free license", which is hardly the basis on which Microsoft would settle the case.
The official announcement of the Microsoft-Motorola deal referred only to Motorola Solutions, and did not mention Motorola Mobility (the mobile devices company that spun off of the original Motorola corporation and later sold to Google, with the other part now being known as Motorola Solutions). So it's not a Microsoft-Google (or Microsoft-Lenovo, since Lenovo will soon own Motorola Mobility's handset business) settlement. But it is yet another Android patent license deal for Microsoft -- number 24 for Microsoft, and number 30 if deals between Android device makers and other patent holders than Microsoft are included (there may be some additional agreements that were struck but never announced).
Yesterday's announcement doesn't mention royalties, but I have no doubt that Motorola Solutions did not get a free lunch.
Here's an updated list of all known 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)
February 13, 2014: Microsoft and Voxx Electronics sign patent agreement for Android devices
February 20, 2014: Microsoft and Hop-on sign patent agreement for Android and Chrome devices ("[T]he parties indicate that Microsoft will receive royalties from Hop-on under the agreement")
March 21, 2014: Samsung settles with Vertical Computer Systems
March 26, 2014: Microsoft and Dell sign patent licensing agreement ("Under the terms of the agreement, they agreed on royalties for Dell's products running the Android or Chrome platforms and on consideration to Dell for a license from Microsoft for Xbox gaming consoles.") (FOSS Patents coverage)
April 21, 2014: Microsoft and Motorola Solutions sign licensing agreement ("The license provides worldwide coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio for Motorola Solutions' devices running the Android platform and Chrome OS operating system.")
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 should be added to the list. IV is claiming in its dispute with Motorola Mobility (where a mistrial lately occurred in Delaware, but that's not the end of the story) that Android infringes some of its countless patents. It's rather conservative not to list those IV deals here, but the moment IV proves any infringement of an Android patent in court or announces a license deal that involves Android or settles litigation that targets Android, I'll add those deals to the list.
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