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Trash Tweets in the Mobile Patent Wars

MS tweets trash talk
After LG license deal
Adds to market share

Microsoft and LG Electronics have entered into an agreement that licenses Microsoft patents for use in LG’s Android- and Chrome-based smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but it builds on a 2007 agreement between the companies involving “Linux-based embedded devices.”  (Google’s Android operating system is related to the open-source Linux operating system.)

This new agreement is Microsoft’s 11th involving manufacturers of devices running Android and Chrome operating systems.  More than 70% of the Android smartphones sold in the United States are now covered by Microsoft’s licenses.

Microsoft reportedly earns more from its licenses to Android device makers than from its own Windows Phone 7 operating system.  Android phones make up almost 50% of the US smartphone market

Motorola Mobility, which is in the process of being acquired by Google, may be the last major Android vendor to refuse to take a license from Microsoft.

Microsoft executives taunted Google in a series of tweets after announcing the LG deal.

Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s head of communications, tweeted, “Hey Google – we are the 70% #anotherandroidlicense,” and linked to the press release about the LG agreement.  Later, he added, “Can we just agree to drop the patents-as-weapons meme? When effective licensing enables companies to share IP, the metaphor falls apart.”

The “weapons” comment refers to the smartphone-related intellectual property legal battles that have been raging on four continents for the past year.

Microsoft’s EVP and General Counsel, Brad Smith, tweeted, “It’s time to recognize that in #patent world, lawsuits are the 1%; license agreements are the 99%.  #anotherandroidlicense.”

And Horacio E. Gutiérrez, Microsoft’s Corporate VP and Deputy General Counsel, joined in with “How should the smartphone industry resolve IP disputes in the software stack? Let’s try licensing.”

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