Let it be known, ambitious original equipment manufacturers: if you get too successful, expect a visit from Microsoft, asking for their latest round of
protection money patent license fees. Huawei is the latest manufacturer to draw the watchful eye of Microsoft after a couple of successful product launches, including the new T-Mobile Springboard. According to the BBC, Huawei is already in negotiations to pay Microsoft. It looks like Huawei will quietly negotiate a licensing deal, as HTC, Samsung and others have already done.
Microsoft is becoming a huge player in the Android world, albeit at one step removed. Already more than half of all the Android phones and tablets sold include a kickback to Microsoft at some level. The company is estimated to be making $444 million annually from Android license fees alone, although that figure has almost certainly risen since it was reported. As in most of Microsoft’s patent dealings, specific patents and processes have not been mentioned.
In dueling interviews, lawyers from Microsoft and Google have played out the proxy patent battle in the media. Microsoft claims that Google is standing on its shoulders as far as software goes, and is bringing its portfolio of thousands of patents to bear on manufacturers instead of suing Google directly. Google has publicly called Microsoft’s tactics extortion, and called into question the validity of the software patent system. All this is in addition to suits from Oracle against Google and Apple against everyone else.