Microsoft has drawn a great deal of flack from critics like Google for trying to force licensing on Android handset makers.
The company insists that it’s merely trying to protect its inventions. However, some question the fact that it's trying to force both manufacturers and OEMs to pay two separate fees on every Android device, in essence double-dipping on licenses. Others point to the fact that some of its patents are on seemingly obvious software, such as loading images before text or displaying an animated loading icon when loading internet images. These patents were largely granted during the lax late 90s and early 00s period at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The latest victim of Microsoft's patent wrath is Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. Rather than choose Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform, Huawei -- like most other manufacturers -- opted to primarily back Google's free, advertising supported Android platform.
In an interview with The Guardian, Huawei's chief marketing officer Victor Xu confirms that Microsoft is lusting after his company's Android profits. He comments, "Yes, Microsoft has come to us. 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."
Thus far Microsoft has forced two of the three largest Android handset manufacturers -- HTC and Samsung Electronics into licensing agreements, along with a host of smaller sellers. Samsung was arguably the biggest surprise, as it was an industry veteran with thousands of patents which some believed would be enough to offer it protection from the licensing demands.
Shenzhen-based Huawei has seen most of its past revenue from mobile network infrastructure sales. The company is the world's second largest maker of mobile network infrastructure behind Sweden's Ericsson SpA and ahead of France's Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens (a joint venture between Finland's Nokia and Germany's Siemens AG .
But Huawei has grand aspirations for dominating the smartphone market, as well. Mr. Xu states, "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. We have established very aggressive targets in the market."
Huawei indicates that "negotiations are in progress" regarding a licensing agreement with Microsoft. Huawei is looking to aggressively expand worldwide, so it must be wary of the more pro-plaintiff intellectual property atmospher outside of China.