COMPUTER MAKER Acer and US display company Viewsonic have signed a patent licensing agreement with software firm Microsoft that will help protect their Android smartphone and tablet products.
Microsoft is keeping tight-lipped about the details of the agreements, but it said the deals give "broad coverage" for Android devices, suggesting that there were many patents involved and that they cover a variety of areas relating to mobile technology.
"We are pleased that Acer [and ViewSonic are] taking advantage of our industry-wide licensing program established to help companies address Android's IP issues," said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate VP and deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing at Microsoft. "This agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercially reasonable arrangements that address intellectual property."
This is a significant move for Acer and Viewsonic, as it helps protect them from being sued by Microsoft, or more likely Apple, for patent infringement. The decision was likely taken in reaction to the recent spate of lawsuits, including Apple's attacks on Samsung, which likely also prompted Google's decision to buy Motorola Mobility to help fight the patent war.
The deal will help protect Acer's Liquid, Betouch and Stream ranges of smartphones and its Iconia Tab tablet computers, in addition to Viewsonic's Gtablet, Viewbook and Viewpad tablets.
Microsoft has an extensive patent licensing network, with over 700 deals under its belt since it began its licensing programme in late 2003. While Windows Phone 7 has failed to gain the traction it hoped for so far, it still pulls in significant funds from Android supporters with its patent portfolio.
Financial details of the deals were not disclosed. µ