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Oracle might seek fees from Android handset makers

Analyst says the software company has approached various handset makers in hopes they will join an early adopters program to license Android technology, for which Oracle claims it holds patents.

Oracle may be looking to collect royalties from Google handset makers, according to an analyst.

Oracle has directly asked handset makers, which currently don't pay anything to use the Google operating system for smartphones, to pay $15 to $20 a handset to license the technology for which the company claims it owns patents, said Deutsche Bank analyst Jonathan Goldberg in an article by IDG New Service on Network World.

So far, none of the companies that have been approached to license the technology have agreed to do so, Goldberg told CNET. Goldberg said Oracle asked various handset makers to join an early adopters program in which they would agree to license the technology from Oracle.

Oracle filed a lawsuit last August against Google claiming that the company is infringing on Java copyrights and patents by using code related to the programing language used in the Android mobile operating system. Oracle acquired the patents when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2010.

Oracle is asking for damages of $2.6 billion and is seeking an injunction.

Neither Google nor Oracle have commented on the reported news that Oracle has approached handset makers. If the news is accurate, experts say Oracle may be approaching device makers in the hopes they will strike early deals and thus help its patent case. Device makers may be tempted to strike an early deal to avoid paying heftier fees in the future, if Oracle's lawsuit is successful.

The latest news suggests that Oracle is also looking to collect money from companies using the Android software just as other software licensing companies do. For example, Microsoft licenses its Windows Mobile 7 software to hardware makers.

One of the benefits of the Google platform is that the Android software has been free. And it's open nature has allowed hardware partners to add customization to the software to differentiate their products.

The free and open nature of the software has helped the Android platform grow both in the U.S and worldwide markets. In just a few short years, the software has gone from zero market share to becoming one of the most widely use mobile operating systems in the world.

While experts don't think that a licensing fee would stop handset makers from using the Google Android OS, it may provide other software makers, such as Microsoft, an opportunity. Stay tuned for a more in depth story on CNET from Jay Greene, who is looking at whether Oracle and Microsoft may benefit from Google's Android success.

CNET senior writer Jay Greene contributed to this report.