Microsoft has announced that today they have signed a patent agreement with LG that that covers “LG’s tablets, mobile phones and other consumer devices running the Android or Chrome OS Platform”. Microsoft and LG are not sharing the details of the agreement, but it is likely that this will be similar to other agreements Microsoft has made with other Android ODMs. Therefore Microsoft is likely to get a few dollars for every LG Android and Chrome OS device sold.
This latest agreement with LG sees Microsoft hold agreements with 11 companies that produce Android and Chrome OS devices. These previous agreements are with companies such as HTC, Samsung and Acer which means that over 70% of all Android devices sold in the US are covered by Microsoft’s patent agreements.
There has been criticism by some that Microsoft is trying to hamper Android’s success by going after the Android device makers and entering into agreements with them. However, from a legal perspective all patents are assets of the company and Microsoft is obliged to protect all its assets. Therefore, it needs to protect its patents and enter into these agreements, that isn’t to say that it can’t benefits from these agreements in other ways than just covering Android devices. For example when Microsoft signed an agreement with Samsung it was able to get Samsung to offer a “closer collaboration on Windows Phone”.
Microsoft is in the process of suing Barnes & Nobile and Motorola Mobility for distributing devices that encroach on some of Microsoft’s patents. It’s understood that these litigations came following a break down of talks between Microsoft and these companies. All the companies who signed an agreement with Microsoft would have been in similar talks, the difference is they often built upon previous agreements and evidently felt it was better to agree with Microsoft than to fight it.