In an interesting and frankly bizarre move, Microsoft has signed a patent agreement with HTC that provides broad coverage under Microsoftâ€™s patent portfolio for HTCâ€™s mobile phones running the Android mobile platform.
Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft told CNET Android infringes on several Microsoft user interface and other patents, and it was Microsoftâ€™s responsibility to ensure "competitors do not free ride on our innovations."
â€œHTC and Microsoft have a long history of technical and commercial collaboration, and todayâ€™s agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercial arrangements that address intellectual property,â€ said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft. â€œWe are pleased to continue our collaboration with HTC.â€
HTC is currently under attack from various sources for patent infringement, but the highest profile case has been Appleâ€™s attempt to block HTC from importing its phones into USA. Most of Appleâ€™s claims have been based on the Android software running in most of HTCâ€™s devices.
Under the agreement Microsoft will receive royalty payments from HTC. Microsoft has also said it has been in talks with other phone makers, but will likely find it a harder sell as companies like Samsung and Motorola likely hold extensive defensive patent portfolios which makes them less vulnerable to such an approach.
Some analysts however feel that more than mere exploitation of HTC may be afoot, with the Microsoft patent deal possibly providing some protection to HTC from Appleâ€™s overtures.
"Google is really unable to protect HTC because they don’t have any portfolio of patents in this area," said Ken Dulaney, Gartner Research Analyst. Microsoft, by contrast, has a broad portfolio and a patent cross-licensing deal with Apple.
It’s not clear to what degree, if any, the Microsoft agreement will help HTC in its battle against Apple. However, Dulaney said that is the key battle for HTC.
"If this doesn’t in some way help HTC against Apple, frankly, I don’t think they gain much," Dulaney said.
Does Microsoftâ€™s decision make sense to our readers? Let us know your thoughts below.