Microsoft has signed another licensee up to its Android patent protection programme, and it's a big one: ODM giant Compal, a company with revenues of around $28 billion per year.
Announced by the company this weekend, the deal is the tenth agreement reached under Microsoft's claims that Android users owe it money to licence allegedly Linux-related patents. It's a programme which is earning Microsoft cash on around half of all Android device sold, and one the company is accelerating.
Much of the company's licensees have signed relatively recently: of the ten licensees - which include ODMs Wistron, Quanta and now Compal, between them accounting for over 55 per cent of the tablet and smartphone ODM market - nine have signed agreements in the last four months.
This latest deal means that Microsoft is getting cash for around 53 per cent of all Android smartphones sold in the US, thanks to deals with manufacturers including Samsung, Acer and HTC.
"We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Compal, one of the leaders in the original design manufacturing, or ODM, industry," Microsoft's deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez crowed. "Together with the license agreements signed in the past few months with Wistron and Quanta Computer, today's agreement with Compal means more than half of the world's ODM industry for Android and Chrome devices is now under license to Microsoft’s patent portfolio
"We are proud of the continued success of our licensing program in resolving IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome," he added.
Writing on the Microsoft 'Issues' blog, Gutierrez and fellow Microsoftie Brad Smith claim that the deal is good for all - not just Microsoft. "As Microsoft has entered new markets from the enterprise to the Xbox, we’ve put together comprehensive licensing programs that address not only our own needs but the needs of our customers and partners as well. As our recent agreements clearly show, Android handset manufacturers are now doing the same thing. Ultimately, that's a good path for everyone."
As with the company's previous deals with the likes of Casio and Samsung, there's a hidden lever at work: as well as Android, Compal make devices running Microsoft's Windows operating system. It seems likely, therefore, that the company is placing pressure on its customers to sign up for Android licences by threatening their supply of Windows licences.
Microsoft's - as yet untested - claims to hold patents integral to the operation of Android, Chrome OS and by extension any Linux-based operating system will likely have other companies concerned, and with the scale of the licensing programme accelerating it seems that the company now has the weight of majority precedence on its side.