Microsoft notches another patent win with LG Android deal

The software giant has been entering into patent agreements with a host of companies lately for devices running Android and Chrome OS, and now it has added LG to its list.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
2 min read

Microsoft has struck another key patent-licensing deal in the Android ecosystem.

The software company announced today that it has inked a deal with LG that will see it license operating system patents for devices running Android and Chrome OS. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

LG has been relying heavily upon Android for its mobile push. At the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this week, the company showed off its new flagship device, the LG Spectrum. The smartphone, which will be launching later this month, runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and will be upgradeable to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

"We are pleased to have built upon our longstanding relationship with LG to reach a mutually beneficial agreement," Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez said today in a statement. "Together with our 10 previous agreements with Android and Chrome OS device manufacturers, including HTC, Samsung and Acer, this agreement with LG means that more than 70 percent of all Android smartphones sold in the U.S. are now receiving coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio. "We are proud of the continued success of our program in resolving the IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome OS."

Although they have been criticized by some, Microsoft's licensing moves have proven quite effective in the mobile space. The software company holds a host of patents related to how operating systems work, and has argued that both Android and Chrome OS violates those patents. Rather than engage in lengthy (and expensive) lawsuits, however, Redmond has offered device makers the opportunity to license patents the operating systems allegedly violate.

As Gutierrez notes, the large majority of prominent Android and Chrome OS partners, including HTC and Samsung, have inked deals. A few smaller companies have signed agreements, as well.

But not every company has been so willing to fall in line. Motorola, for example, has argued against Microsoft's claims with the U.S. International Trade Commission. However, last month, the ITC issued a preliminary ruling, saying that Motorola does, in fact, violate a patent Microsoft holds. If the ruling is held up, Motorola will have to either remove the infringing feature or find another way to make it right, potentially by way of licensing.

Although Microsoft's Android targeting is somewhat new, the company has been taking aim at other operating systems--most notably Linux--for years now. In fact, since launching its IP licensing program in 2003, Microsoft has signed over 1,100 agreements. That figure is growing rapidly: back in September, Microsoft announced that it had 700 licensing agreements in place.