Huawei next on Microsoft's Android hit-list

Microsoft's legal patent offensive on Google's Android platform shows no signs of slowing, with the Chinese Huawei confirming that it's the next target in line.

Microsoft has recently been gently encouraging its various customers to sign up for an intellectual property licence based on patents it claims to hold relating to the Linux kernel using in the Android mobile platform.

It's been a successful ploy: according to the company's own figures, companies representing more than half the Android device market have agreed to pay royalties to Microsoft, including Samsung, Compal and Quanta.

For Microsoft, it's quite literally money for nothing: while its own mobile platform, Windows Phone, languishes in single-figure market share, the company receives cash for devices running its biggest rival's mobile platform - cash that can be sunk back in to Windows Phone development.

For those that pay the price, it's a guarantee that Microsoft won't sue - although the company has shown little interest in doing so thus far, as that would put the intellectual property at the heart of its argument to a legal test, which could result in the entire house of cards coming crashing down.

According to comments made by Huawei's chief marketing officer Victor Xu to the Guardian, the Chinese telecommunications company has already received requests from Microsoft to join the ranks of Android licensees - but he's not planning on giving up without a fight.

"Yes, Microsoft has come to us," confirmed Xu. "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."

Those fighting words come as Huawei attempts to move from its current position as an OEM and ODM - producing, among other things, mobile broadband dongles for various networks along with back-end networking equipment for carriers - to a household name, launching own-brand smartphones and tablets in the UK.

Xu's clear indication that his company won't be following in the footsteps of Samsung without some serious legal tussling comes as Google's Tim Porter, a lawyer specialising in patents, accused Microsoft of using "dubious patents" in place of innovation.

"This is a tactic that Microsoft has used in the past, with Linux, for example," Porter claimed in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. "When their products stop succeeding in the marketplace, when they get marginalised, as is happening now with Android, they use the large patent portfolio they've built up to get revenue from the success of other companies' products."