These are the 310 patents Microsoft uses to 'tax' Samsung, other Android device makers


Everyone knows Microsoft and Google are direct rivals in many arenas, but the Redmond-based software giant actually makes a lot of revenue through Android. That's because Microsoft has tied up patent licensing deals with the largest Android device makers, which means it has to be paid a fee for every device made, and given how many Android devices have been sold over the past two years, we can only imagine or estimate how much money Microsoft is making.

 

The reason is Microsoft has never revealed the cost of the patents. As this article from ZDNet points out, it could be in the range of $2 billion each year and with the number of manufacturers joining the licensing deal increasing by the year, we can expect the revenue to grow even more. And that's not even accounting for Android growth in general. In short, Microsoft profits from Android's growth thanks to its patent licensing deals.

 

Microsoft has never revealed what those patents are, except for when forced to in court. However, new documents posted on the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)'s website, reveal the full range of the patents, which were submitted to the court in light of Microsoft's purchase of Nokia.  The Chinese government was looking into allegations that Microsoft would use its licensing agreements to create an uncompetitive atmosphere.

 

Ars Technica, which found the documents, reports they were only revealed on the Chinese language version of the site, and are not found on its English language counterpart. The patents in questions range from Microsoft's own patents to those it acquired when joining the Rockstar consortium.

 

As the report says, "73 patents that are said to be "standard-essential patents," or SEPs, implemented in smartphones generally, followed by 127 patents that Microsoft says are implemented in Android. The final section includes another section of "non-SEP" assets, which includes 68 patent applications and 42 issued patents." For the full list, full of patent legalese, check out the documents here and here.

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