HTC license Microsoft patents for Android devices [Updated with Microsoft statement]

Microsoft have announced that they've signed a patent agreement that will see Microsoft IP in use on HTC Android devices.  The specific patents themselves are unnamed – Microsoft only confirm that the agreement "provides broad coverage" across their portfolio – but one assumption is that HTC are hoping to prevent further legal battles such as that currently ongoing with Apple.  For instance, Altimeter Group analyst (and SlashGear columnist) Michael Gartenberg reckons that the agreement will redefine the notion of Android being a "free" platform, since device manufacturers will have to take care to protect themselves from litigation.Updated after the cut (and Update 2 with official Microsoft statement)

"The net is a changed dynamic in the cost of what implementing and OS really is and handset vendors willingness to settle patent claims or go through the hassle of the courts" Michael Gartenberg, analyst, Altimeter Group

Handset manufacturers, that is, or Google themselves; while the search giant and founder of the OHA has said it "stands behind" HTC in the Apple case, it hasn't yet defined exactly what that support translates to in the real world.  Meanwhile, smaller OEMs without HTC's negotiating clout are likely watching closely so as to gauge exactly what sort of backup they can expect should they put out a pure Android device and then find themselves the target of an IP case.

Update: According to CNET, the licensing deal was indeed a self-protecting one by HTC, with Microsoft apparently ramping up to litigation over impinged IP by HTC's Android devices.Update 2: Microsoft have given us the following statement:

"Microsoft has a decades-long record of investment in software platforms. As a result, we have built a significant patent portfolio in this field, and we have a responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to ensure that competitors do not free ride on our innovations.  We have also consistently taken a proactive approach to licensing to resolve IP infringement by other companies, and have been talking with several device manufacturers to address our concerns relative to the Android mobile platform."

Press Release:

Microsoft Announces Patent Agreement With HTC

Agreement will cover HTC's Android phones.

REDMOND, Wash. — April 27, 2010 — Microsoft Corp. and HTC Corp. have signed a patent agreement that provides broad coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio for HTC's mobile phones running the Android mobile platform. Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will receive royalties from HTC.

The agreement expands HTC's long-standing business relationship with Microsoft.

"HTC and Microsoft have a long history of technical and commercial collaboration, and today's agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercial arrangements that address intellectual property," said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft. "We are pleased to continue our collaboration with HTC."

Microsoft's Commitment to Licensing Intellectual Property

The licensing agreement is another example of the important role intellectual property (IP) plays in ensuring a healthy and vibrant IT ecosystem. Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, the company has entered into more than 600 licensing agreements and continues to develop programs that make it possible for customers, partners and competitors to access its IP portfolio. The program was developed to open access to Microsoft's significant research and development investments and its growing, broad patent and IP portfolio. More information about Microsoft's licensing programs is available at

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.