Acer and ViewSonic are the latest companies to execute patent licensing agreements with Microsoft to protect their Android smartphones and tablet devices from litigation in the event Microsoft ever decides to take Google to court for patent infringement. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed, but ViewSonic will explicitly be paying royalties to Microsoft to cover Android tablets and mobile phones. The announcement of a license agreement with Acer contains no language about royalties, potentially indicating Acer may have executed a patent swap with Microsoft that doesn’t involve cash—or maybe Acer is just playing closer to its vest.
In boilerplate text, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel Horacio Gutiérez indicated he was pleased both companies were “taking advantage of our industrywide licensing program established to help companies address Android’s IP issues.”
Microsoft doesn’t make Android, but it seems to be making good money off it: Microsoft’s first Android-related patent license deal was with HTC, and the company has recently executed patent licensing deals with Velocity Micro, Onkyo, and Itronics as well as Wistron—the latter agreement covers Google Chrome, not just Android. Microsoft has also been applying pressure to other Android device manufacturers, with reports indicating the company has demanded Samsung pay Microsoft $15 per Android device sold.
If Microsoft’s intellectual property campaign succeeds, the Redmond software giant will succeed in not only turning Android into a bit of a profit center for the company, but will further tarnish Android’s self-positioning as a “free and open” operating system—which, in turn, could create a market opening for Microsoft’s own Windows Phone platform, particularly amongst organizations and enterprises who don’t want to be left out in the cold if someone—whether Apple, Oracle, or Microsoft—can kick the legs out from under Android.