Microsoft and HTC: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

It gets weirder.  Microsoft, in turn, would recieve royalties on every Google Android phone sold by HTC.  So, for a few bucks per Android device, Microsoft gives HTC the ammunition it needs to fight off Apple in its patent disputes.

Despite public statements to the contrary, HTC must be concerned about the Apple lawsuit. Otherwise there’s little reason to give Microsoft “a few bucks” per phone for, essentially, nothing. Windows Mobile is in terrible shape, so if Microsoft had any phone patents (i.e., “ammunition”) worth having they’d have gone after the smartphone vendors themselves by now. They haven’t.

Instead, I think Microsoft licensed HTC a bill of goods that looks good in a press release. Microsoft gets cash money for HTC phones sold, but doesn’t have to dirty their hands with any legal battle that’ll cost millions (and they’re not confident in winning).

Sure, HTC can go back to Apple and say “See? We have these Microsoft patents, are you scared now?”, but I think Apple will be unimpressed. Again, it looks good in a press release, and in tech pundits’ columns, but all it’ll likely do is stretch the case, and the cloud over HTC, out further, which is not a good thing for HTC.

I would think HTC tried first to cross-license with Apple (after all, they’re the ones holding the patents HTC’s alleged to be infringing), but Apple said no. Microsoft made overtures, HTC grabbed, and Microsoft laughs all the way to the bank.

1 thought on “Microsoft and HTC: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

  1. Some other thoughts. There’s an article on this over at, and I just left this comment there: Microsoft is brilliant. Why didn’t Palm think of this?1) Your phone isn’t selling (Windows Mobile is a disaster right now). 2) You have a patent portfolio everyone seems to think is killer. 3) Of course, if your patent portfolio were really “killer” you’d go after the big infringers on your own. Hopefully no one notices MS hasn’t done this. 4) Instead, you scare a smaller fish. Meet him in a back alley and say “Pssst, want to license our patents? No, we won’t argue about them, but ‘everyone knows’ they’re killer, and believe me you’re violating them”. 5) Smaller fish buys into the “killer” theory and licenses a portfolio that may actually be worth very little. 6) Microsoft gets money for HTC phones sold, and doesn’t have to mess with a dirty patent suit they’re likely convinced they can’t win anyway. 7) Once you get one fish on board, you go after others. All without having to prove the portfolio is even worth anything.It’s brilliant on Microsoft’s part. For HTC, it’s probably a mistake. Maybe Palm will license their patents to HTC next.And, yes, I’m sure there’s something in the MS portfolio broad enough to potentially bring a case against Apple. But that’s not the ultimate goal, and now what smart companies do. You bring a case with a reasonable belief you can “win” it, not just blow millions to eventually get nothing in return. MS apparently didn’t believe they could do the former, and has no issue with HTC doing the latter.

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