Microsoft will collect a royalty for every device built by Foxconn that runs Google operating systems Android or Chrome OS.
Hon Hai, the parent of the Chinese electronics behemoth, confirmed today it has inked a deal to license unspecified Microsoft patents on smartphones, tablets and TVs built by Foxconn that use Google's Linux-derived system software.
Neither party revealed exactly how much money was exchanged, or will be paid, under the new agreement, although Microsoft said a "broad" range of its patent portfolio had been licensed.
Foxconn builds its own Android tablets powered by Nvidia's ARM-compatible Tegra processors, but it is best known as the maker of Apple's iPads and iPhones, Amazon's Kindle, Sony's PlayStation 3, and a huge range of other electronics including laptops.
The manufacturing giant is now one of the biggest names bagged by Microsoft’s campaign to force Linux, Android and Chrome OS device makers to license its patents.
Microsoft now reckons more than 50 per cent of Android phones in the world are built by corporations that have licensed its patents. The factories in Fortress Foxconn alone apparently churn out 40 per cent of the world's consumer electronics.
As a Redmond portfolio licensee, Foxconn joins Samsung - the maker of the world’s most popular Android phones and tablets - and Acer, HTC, LG and Barnes & Noble, plus a list of smaller and lesser-known names punching out Android-powered gadgets and notebooks. Microsoft claims Android, Chrome OS and Linux violate its intellectual property rights, but has not specified which protected designs have been infringed.
Microsoft brought a legal action against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec in early 2011, accusing the Android-powered Nook and Nook Colour e-readers made by Foxconn and Inventec of infringing five Windows user interface patents.
The lawsuit came after the collapse of royalty negotiations between Barnes & Noble and Microsoft. The bookseller claimed the Redmond software giant had demanded fees greater than if it had simply bought copies of Windows and that the licence would restrict its ability to upgrade the software.
Microsoft and Barnes & Noble eventually settled in 2012; the book biz created a new subsidiary to create a Windows-powered e-reader using $300m from Microsoft, which holds a 17 per cent stake in the venture. ®