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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Huawei confirms that Microsoft is chasing it for Android patent licence

Huawei Vision
Huawei's new Vision smartphone runs on Android Gingerbread 2.3

The Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has confirmed that Microsoft is demanding royalty payments from it over products using Android software.

Victor Xu, chief marketing officer for Huawei Devices, confirmed to the Guardian on Monday evening that "negotiations are in progress" over licensing certain Microsoft patents which the American software giant claims are infringed by hardware implementations of Android.

"Yes, Microsoft has come to us," Xu said on Monday as the company launched a new smartphone and 7in tablet for the UK market. "We always respect the intellectual property of companies. But we have 65,000 patents worldwide too. We have enough to protect our interests. We are a very important stakeholder in Android."

Microsoft has already extracted per-device royalty agreements for Android products from at least 10 companies, including Samsung, the world's largest smartphone maker, HTC, Compal Electronics (whose customers include Dell, HP and Toshiba), Quanta Computer, Wistron, General Dynamics Itronix, Velocity Micro, Onkyo, Acer, and Viewsonic. In a blogpost in October Microsoft's Brad Smith said that the licence agreement with Compal meant that "companies accounting for more than half of all Android devices have now entered into patent licence agreements with Microsoft".

Xu suggested that Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility, which is still underway, might lead to more protection from Google for Android licences.

The Shenzhen-based company is the world's second-biggest maker of networking infrastructure such for mobile phone networks, behind Sweden's Ericsson and ahead of Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens Networks.

Huawei – pronounced "Hoo-wah-way" – has big ambitions in the smartphone market: "Over the next three years we are aiming to be in the top five smartphone makers, and in the top three in the next five years," said Xu. "We have established very aggressive targets in the market."

Presently the fifth-largest smartphone maker is RIM with its BlackBerry range, which in the third quarter of the year shipped 11.8m phones worldwide. The third largest was Nokia, with 16.8m.

Huawei intends to open a design centre in London which will employ "dozens" of people who will work on the design of products for the company. Mark Mitchinson, Huawei's UK vice-president, said that it should be open by the beginning of 2012.


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