Microsoft has announced a licensing agreement with HTC for its mobile phone patents that gives HTC access to “broad coverage” under Microsoft’s patent portfolio. HTC will pay Microsoft royalties for the Android phones it sells. This agreement comes in the shadow of Apple suing HTC for patent infringement, a move widely believed to be aimed at Google and Android. Analysts are already stating that this deal between HTC and Microsoft is aimed at defusing the Apple suit, but a statement by the Microsoft legal team implies it’s merely HTC avoiding a similar infringement claim by Redmond.
No details have been provided by Microsoft nor HTC as to which technologies are covered under this agreement. A look at Microsoft’s IP licensing program sheds some light as to the likely ones:
- Exchange ActiveSync: HTC was the first Android phone maker including full support for interacting with Exchange Servers. This is almost certainly included in this licensing deal.
- ClearType: Technology yielding crisper display of text on LCD screens.
There are no doubt many other patented technologies that are included under the HTC/Microsoft agreement, given the “broad coverage” claimed by both companies.
The statement by Microsoft that Android was infringing on its patents, and the subsequent deal with HTC, may spell big trouble for Google and the platform. Other Android phone makers now must make a determination if handsets produced likely infringe on either Microsoft or Apple technology. This may turn the semi-open platform into one as full of potential holes as Swiss cheese.