Microsoft issued a news release late late night, announcing it signed a patent agreement with HTC over its entire line of smartphones running the Android operating system.
Specific terms of the deal, including how many patents or what they cover, were not immediately released. Microsoft's statement did say the agreement "provides broad coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio for HTC 's mobile phones running the Android mobile platform."
“HTC and Microsoft have a long history of technical and commercial collaboration, and today’s agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercial arrangements that address intellectual property,” Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft, said in the official statement. “We are pleased to continue our collaboration with HTC.”
The announcement comes as HTC is facing a lawsuit from Apple Inc., which alleges that HTC infringes on a number of its patents with many of its Android phones, and a few Windows Mobile devices, too. It is unknown for which patents HTC is paying royalties to Microsoft, and whether they overlap any of Apple's claims.
CNET's Ina Fried reports that the disputed patents range from the user interface to the operating system itself, and that this is the first time Microsoft has publicly said that HTC was violating patents. Microsoft for years has alleged that Linux infringes on a number of its patents and has sought licensing deals with manufacturers who use the open-source OS, which also is the framework for Android. This, however, is Microsoft's first licensing deal with the mobile OS.
Full text of Microsoft's press release after the break. [Ed. note: Cross-posted at WMExperts.com]