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Foxconn pays Android license fees to Microsoft despite Google’s claim they’re unjustified

Apr 17, 20133 mins
MicrosoftSmall and Medium BusinessWindows

Manufacturers pony up to avoid litigation

While Google insists that Microsoft doesn’t own intellectual property included in its Android operating system, manufacturers who make Android devices think its smarter to pay Microsoft royalties on disputed patents than to get entangled in court cases.

The latest: the parent company of Foxconn, which builds the lion’s share of Android devices, has agreed to pay license fees to Microsoft for every phone, tablet and television based on either Android or Google’s other operating system, Chrome, according to a statement issued by Microsoft.

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The agreement with Foxconn’s parent company Hon Hai is significant because Foxconn is so large, making 40% of all mobile phones as well as other devices that are sold by vendors of brand-name devices such as Apple and Acer.  

Some of the patents involved deal with arcane areas such as implementing both long and short file names in the same file system, a monitoring system that determines when to erase data from flash memory devices and cellular technology that lets applications issue commands without needing knowledge of the phone’s underlying radio structure or specific knowledge of the radio network’s specific commands.

Hon Hai’s not the only manufacturer to pay up. Compal and Wistron also license Microsoft technology as do device vendors Acer, HTC and Samsung.

Microsoft and Google are embroiled in patent suits that dispute whether Microsoft patents cover intellectual property included in Android. Apple has a similar beef.

Apparently it makes good business sense to pay Microsoft’s per-device license fees as they go along rather than get stuck with a big bill later if Microsoft wins its lawsuit against Google.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

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