updated 07:55 am EDT, Wed April 28, 2010
MS complicates Apple HTC lawsuit with patents
Microsoft today tried to cast doubt on Android today by claiming that the OS infringes on some of its patents. It argued that Google's platform uses Microsoft technology for both the user interface and the core architecture. Multiple phone manufacturers, starting with HTC, have allegedly been violating those patents simply by using Android on their phones.
As a result of the claims, Microsoft said that it has already struck a one-way licensing agreement with HTC that will see it pay royalties to Microsoft in exchange for the continued ability to ship phones using Android. The terms of the deal weren't discussed.
HTC is already one of Microsoft's better customers and regularly licenses Windows Mobile, although it lately has been shifting most of its attention towards Android phones given their higher popularity.
The move is typical for Microsoft, which has often tried to deter the use of Linux-based software by claiming patent ownership. It has notably never sued directly for infringement but has instead counted on licensing agreements that let it profit even when customers switch away from Windows. A deal with Novell is the most notable example, but several other Linux distributors have also made such agreements.
Any agreement potentially complicates Apple's lawsuit against HTC but may not necessarily be tailored with this in mind. Depending on the level of overlap, HTC may lean on one or more of the patents as examples of how it may not necessarily violate Apple's patents. More likely, however, is Microsoft hoping to thwart its current main rival Google by increasing the costs of using Android or raising the possibility of lawsuits if manufacturers refuse to abide by Microsoft's interpretation of the patents.
Google hasn't commented on the lawsuit.