If it isn't enough that HTC currently has a pending fight on its hands over accused patent infringement by Apple, now Microsoft has decided to jump on the bandwagon and accuse HTC (mostly Android) of a similar offense.  Unlike the lawsuit wielded by Apple, however, Microsoft appears to have handled the matter in a more gentlemanly fashion, by negotiating a licensing agreement with HTC entitling themselves to certain undisclosed royalties.

A press release (below) was sent out late last night discussing the patent agreement made between the two companies, confusing many journalists at first.  The initial thought was that the purpose of the agreement was to help HTC in its fight against Apple by allowing them access to Microsoft's comprehensive portfolio of patents.  This seemed to make some sense due to HTC's history of providing hardware for Windows Mobile devices as well as Microsoft's long-time rivalry with Apple.  However, as CNET points out:

Microsoft has taken the position, according to those close to the company, that Android infringes on the company's patented technology and that the infringement applies broadly in areas ranging from the user interface to the underlying operating system.

So, while in the end HTC may benefit from the licensing agreement in terms of its approach to handling the Apple lawsuit, it wasn't the primary reasoning for the arrangement with Microsoft.  It is comforting to know, however, that Microsoft's approach to this sort of thing isn't quite as belligerent as others'.  Horacio Gutierrez, deputy general counsel for Microsoft, said "We have also consistently taken a proactive approach to licensing to resolve IP infringement by other companies and have been talking with several device manufacturers to address our concerns relative to the Android mobile platform."

That's about it for now.  I'm sure more details will unravel as time presses on, but it's definitely interesting to say the least.  Comments and insights are welcome below!

Via TechCrunch, CNET

REDMOND, Wash. — April 27, 2010 — Microsoft Corp. and HTC Corp. have signed a patent agreement that provides broad coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for HTC’s mobile phones running the Android mobile platform. Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will receive royalties from HTC.

The agreement expands HTC’s long-standing business relationship with Microsoft.

“HTC and Microsoft have a long history of technical and commercial collaboration, and today’s agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercial arrangements that address intellectual property,” said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft. “We are pleased to continue our collaboration with HTC.”

Microsoft’s Commitment to Licensing Intellectual Property

The licensing agreement is another example of the important role intellectual property (IP) plays in ensuring a healthy and vibrant IT ecosystem. Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, the company has entered into more than 600 licensing agreements and continues to develop programs that make it possible for customers, partners and competitors to access its IP portfolio. The program was developed to open access to Microsoft’s significant research and development investments and its growing, broad patent and IP portfolio. More information about Microsoft’s licensing programs is available at http://www.microsoft.com/iplicensing.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://www.microsoft.com/news. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed athttp://www.microsoft.com/news/contactpr.mspx.

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