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LG Electronics Thursday became the latest in a long line of mobile device manufacturers to ink a licensing deal with Microsoft to protect itself from litigation over alleged patent infringement in Google's Android mobile operating system and Chrome OS Platform.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has now lined up 11 manufacturers willing to pay for protection. Neither party disclosed the financial terms of the licensing deal.
"We are pleased to have built upon our longstanding relationship with LG to reach a mutually beneficial agreement," said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of the Intellectual Property Group at Microsoft. "Together with our 10 previous agreements with Android and Chrome OS device manufacturers, including HTC, Samsung and Acer, this agreement with LG means that more than 70 percent of all Android smartphones sold in the US are now receiving coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio. We are proud of the continued success of our program in resolving the IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome OS."
Microsoft began taking action against handset manufacturers building Android devices in 2010, with a lawsuit against Motorola. The suit alleged infringement of nine Microsoft patents in the Android-powered Droid mobile handsets built by Motorola (NYSE:MOT).
In a blog post about the filing, Gutierrez wrote at the time: "The patents at issue relate to a range of functionality embodied in Motorola's Android smartphone devices that are essential to the smartphone user experience, including synchronizing e-mail, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power."
Android was built on the Linux kernel, and for years Microsoft has claimed that Linux vendors are infringing some 235 of its patents.
In March of last year, Microsoft trained its legal guns on Barnes & Noble and its device manufacturer partners: Foxconn International Holdings and Inventec. Microsoft alleged patent infringement by the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader, which is powered by Android.
In that case, Microsoft specifically identified at least five patents that it alleged Android infringes upon. The patents include descriptions of:
- A method to enable the opening of a new, tabbed control window
- A method for remote retrieval and display management of electronic documents
- A method for providing the status of a download in a browser with limited available display area
- A method for selecting text in electronic documents
- A method and apparatus for capturing annotations for a non-modifiable document
While the Motorola and Barnes & Noble suits remain outstanding, other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original device manufacturers (ODMs), like LG, have elected to agree to Microsoft's licenses rather than face it in court.
In August of last year, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) moved to acquire Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) for $12.5 billion. Motorola Mobility's shareholders voted in favor of the transaction in November, but the deal has yet to close. The acquisition would give Google access to some 16,000 patents that most experts agree Google will attempt to use to indemnify its Android partners against infringement suits.