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Microsoft’s lawyers reel in a big one: Foxconn licenses Redmond’s patents covering Android

Microsoft announced Tuesday evening that Foxconn has licensed its patents so that it can be free in clear from a legal view when it makes products that run Google’s Android or Chrome operating systems.

Hon Hai Precision Industry, the Taiwan-based parent of the huge contract manufacturer Foxconn, has agreed to pay Microsoft for a license for any product it produces that run the rival software.

Microsoft has said for years that any company making Android phones has to license its patents or face litigation. As of 2011, Microsoft’s campaign was so successful it that was making more money from patent licensing than its own mobile phones.

And now Microsoft said that more than 50 percent of the Android phones in the world come from companies that have agreed to license its patents. These include Samsung, LG, and HTC. The companies didn’t disclose how much money Foxconn will pay Microsoft under the deal. The agreement will cover Foxconn’s smartphones, tablets, and televisions.

Google’s Motorola division, meanwhile, is still fighting Microsoft in court.

“We are pleased that the list of companies benefiting from Microsoft’s Android licensing program now includes the world’s largest contract manufacturer, Hon Hai,” said Horacio Gutierrez, the head of Microsoft’s intellectual property group, in a statement. “By licensing both brand name companies and their contract manufacturers, we have successfully increased the overall effectiveness and global reach of the program.”

“We recognize and respect the importance of international efforts that seek to protect intellectual property,” said Samuel Fu, director of IP at Hon Hai. “The licensing agreement with Microsoft represents those efforts and our continued support of international trade agreements that facilitate implementation of effective patent protection.”


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