The company behind Amazon’s Kindle Fire became the latest licensee of Microsoft’s mobile patents Thursday, when Quanta signed a deal that covers hardware using Google’s Android and Chrome OS operating systems.
Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has moved aggressively over the past few years targeting mobile companies that it believes are making products that infringe on its patents, and most of those companies have a common theme: they used Google’s Android software in their products. Quanta makes hardware that other companies sell under their own brands, such as the Kindle Fire (which runs a heavily modified version of Android) and Research in Motion’s Playbook, which is based on the QNX operating system.
No financial terms were disclosed, but Microsoft said in a statement that Quanta will be paying it royalties. Microsoft’s patent position grows stronger with every licensee, with only Motorola (NYSE: MMI) and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) remaining as holdouts among the prominent Android partners.
It’s not clear whether this agreement frees Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) of any patent-related obligations: the companies have a cross-licensing deal in place already, but Microsoft legal executives have indicated that the deal may not extend to Android products. The company gave ZDNet a murky statement, saying that “we put in place provisions that make sure we are not paid twice for the same device,” meaning that it’s likely that Quanta’s royalty payment should suffice. However, Microsoft also said it could not explicitly say whether the deal covers specific devices like the Kindle Fire, other than to say “we seek agreements that provide coverage for as broad a set of the (original design manufacturer’s) offerings as possible.”