Microsoft collars Compal for patent fees, criticizes Google

Oct 24, 2011
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Compal is the latest Android user to sign a patent licensing deal with Microsoft, following Samsung and Quanta in agreeing to pay the software giant for its Android and Chrome devices. The news, Microsoft says, means that more than half of the world's ODMs (Original Design Manufacturing) producing Android and Chrome hardware are paying them for the privilege of doing so. Meanwhile, Microsoft also takes the opportunity to criticize rivals that aren't as forthcoming in protecting manufacturers who use their software.

"We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Compal, one of the leaders in the original design manufacturing, or ODM, industry.  Together with the license agreements signed in the past few months with Wistron and Quanta Computer, today’s agreement with Compal means more than half of the world’s ODM industry for Android and Chrome devices is now under license to Microsoft’s patent portfolio. We are proud of the continued success of our licensing program in resolving IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome" Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, Intellectual Property Group, Microsoft

Compal has been responsible for manufacturing a number of Android-based Tegra 2 tablets over the past 18 months, both for brand names and as whitebox hardware to be rebranded by resellers, as well as producing new Oak Trail based test hardware for Intel, as in the slate spotted by Tweakers shown above. The new patent licensing deal with Microsoft will cover smartphones, tablets, ereaders and other consumer electronic devices, though neither company is saying exactly how much Compal will pay per gadget.

Microsoft continues to insist that its licensing program is working as expected, and that its approach to patent issues is the best way forward for all parties. In a post on the Microsoft blog, the company argues that "for those who continue to protest that the smartphone patent thicket is too difficult to navigate, it's past time to wake up."

There's also what could be interpreted as a snub at Google, which has been accused by some of sitting back and allowing OEMs to sort out the patent situation around Android rather than stepping up itself. "We've stood by our customers and partners with countless agreements that contain the strongest patent indemnification provisions in our industry" the blog post suggests. "These ensure that if our software infringes someone else's patents, we'll address the problem rather than leave it to others."


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