SOFTWARE LICENSING OPERATOR Microsoft has signed a licensing deal with Foxconn's parent Hon Hai Precision Industry as part of its long-running Android licensing scheme.
Microsoft has been steadily licensing software patents to Android device makers for years and has managed to get firms like HTC and Samsung to pay royalties to avoid the threat of litigation. Now the firm announced that it has signed a patent licensing deal with Hon Hai, the parent firm of Foxconn, covering all the Android and Chrome devices it manufacturers.
Neither Microsoft nor Hon Hai revealed details of the licensing agreement but Microsoft said it will receive royalties on every device Hon Hai makes that runs Android or Chrome.
Given Foxconn's enormous market reach the deal might even cushion the failure of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, which is turning out to be a flop. Microsoft said its licensing agreement covers smartphones, tablets and even televisions that run Google's operating systems.
Horacio Gutierrez, corporate VP and deputy general counsel of the Intellectual Property Group at Microsoft talked up the firm's ability to sign licensing agreements with both branded device makers such as Samsung and OEMs such as Foxconn, Wistron and Quanta.
He said, "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.
"By licensing both brand name companies and their contract manufacturers, we have successfully increased the overall effectiveness and global reach of the program."
Samuel Fu, director of the Intellectual Property Department at Hon Hai instead played up the firm's own patent portfolio. He said, "Hon Hai is the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer that holds more than 54,000 patents worldwide. We recognize and respect the importance of international efforts that seek to protect intellectual property.
"The licensing agreement with Microsoft represents those efforts and our continued support of international trade agreements that facilitate implementation of effective patent protection."
Interestingly, while Google itself doesn't make any money directly from Android since it gives the operating system away for free, Microsoft on the other hand has set up quite a lucrative racket of collecting royalties on the open source operating system. µ