As you may recall from back in May 2011, a story broke on the fact that HTC, one of the biggest manufacturers behind the wave of Android devices that has been sweeping the world since the inception of Google’s mobile OS, is paying Microsoft $5 for every single Android device the company sells. Keeping that in mind, note that Microsoft is now agreeing on a patent licensing deal with another OEM by the name of General Dynamics Itronix. Is this the first block to fall in a wall of signings with groups like Microsoft that collapses the concept of a Free and Open Android?
Corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft Horacio Gutierrez calls this deal “an example of how industry leaders address intellectual property.” Is this a shout out to other manufacturers who’ve yet to sign deals with big companies like Microsoft who may later come after them the same way they did with HTC? Microsoft certainly does have reason to want to ink deals such as these, but does not mind going to legal war with groups they know they’ll win against: HTC’s $5 per device earns them more than they make with Windows Phone through their own OEMs. Big cash money!
And what does this mean for Android as an open system? We all know that manufacturers are allowed to create Android-based devices all they want with no cash thrown to anyone and no authorization given by Google, but if a group like Microsoft finds them in violation of a patent they’ve got signed up with them, they can sue. Once you’re under fire from Microsoft because they see your device (even if it’s running Android, a free and open system) as infringing on a device they’ve already got patented, you’re pretty much in their grip legally.
Back in 2010, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer let us all know the truth in plain English: “it’s not like Android’s free. You do have to license patents. HTC’s signed a license with us and you’re going to see license fees clearly for Android as well as for Windows.” Remember that, OEMs, Ballmer has your number.
[via Android Community]