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Microsoft inks Android and Chrome patent deals

The software giant signs licensing agreements over Google's Android and Chrome with Acer and ViewSonic, adding to the list of device makers coming to terms with the software giant.

Jay Greene Former Staff Writer
Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).
Jay Greene
2 min read

Microsoft struck two new patent-protection deals with hardware makers seeking to avoid being sued for using Google's Android and Chrome operating systems.

Microsoft's Horacio Gutierrez Microsoft

Acer signed a licensing deal with Microsoft that includes "broad coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio for Acer's tablets and smartphones running the Android platform," Microsoft said in a press release. Acer's Iconia Tab, among other devices, runs Android.

"We are pleased that Acer is taking advantage of our industry-wide licensing program established to help companies address Android's IP issues," said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing at Microsoft.

The software giant's deal with ViewSonic covers tablets and mobile phones running either Android or Chrome. ViewSonic's ViewPad 7 will run Android. And the company has reportedly been considering using Chrome in its tablets as well.

The companies didn't disclose terms of the deals, except that Microsoft will get royalties from ViewSonic under that agreement.

Rather than going after Google for patent violations, Microsoft has targeted device makers, pressing them to license Microsoft's patents that it alleges Android and Chrome infringe upon. Last year, Microsoft cut a deal with its longtime partner HTC. And in recent months, it's inked agreements with several smaller device makers including Wistron and Onkyo.

After today's deals were announced, Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith tweeted that more agreements were coming.

"It's safe to predict more will follow this fall," Smith wrote.

Microsoft general counsel and senior vice president Brad Smith's tweet about the latest patent-protection deals. Twitter; screenshot by Jay Greene/CNET

Microsoft has also sued Barnes & Noble for violating patents that cover the way users of its Nook electronic reader, which runs on Android, interact with the devices. Barnes & Noble disputed those claims a month later, alleging that Microsoft was abusing the patent system in order to hinder competition.

And Microsoft also sued Motorola last year, alleging that several of the handset maker's Android devices infringe on Microsoft patents. Last month, Google agreed to buy Motorola for $12.5 billion.