Microsoft signs patent deal with Chinese phone maker ZTE

The software giant says it now has patent deals with companies that make 80 percent of Android phones sold in the United States and a majority of those sold worldwide.

Jay Greene
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).

In its continuing march toward locking up deals with every major Android and Chrome device maker, Microsoft announced on Tuesday a patent-licensing agreement with Chinese manufacturer ZTE.

The deal grants ZTE a license to Microsoft's worldwide patent portfolio for ZTE phones, tablets, computers, and other devices that run Android and Chrome OS. Microsoft did not disclose if ZTE would pay royalties, or the amount it would pay, under the agreement.

Last week, Microsoft announced a similar deal with Foxconn's parent company, Hon Hai.

"Much of the current litigation in the so-called 'smartphone patent wars' could be avoided if companies were willing to recognize the value of others' creations in a way that is fair," Microsoft Vice President and General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez said in a statement. "At Microsoft, experience has taught us that respect for intellectual-property rights is a two-way street, and we have always been prepared to respect the rights of others just as we seek respect for our rights."

Gutierrez noted that Microsoft has paid patent holders more than $4 billion over the last decade to secure rights for products it makes.

Though Microsoft has alleged that Android and Chrome infringe on its patents, it hasn't sued Google, which created both operating systems. Instead, it's reached agreements with several hardware makers, including Acer, HTC, Compal Electronics, Quanta Computer, and Wistron. Microsoft says that 80 percent of Android smartphones sold in the U.S. and "a majority of those sold worldwide" are covered under patent agreements with the company.

Google has said that neither operating system infringes on Microsoft's patents.