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Microsoft inks two more Android patent licensing deals

Microsoft on Monday announced a patent-licensing deal with Aluratek and Coby Electronics, which will allow the firms to sell products running Android or Chrome OS.

Microsoft has now licensed more than 70 per cent of all US Android devices, the company said.

"The licensing agreements with Aluratek and Coby Electronics demonstrate yet again that licensing is the path forward to resolving intellectual property disputes within the industry, and can be effective for companies of all sizes," Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of the Intellectual Property Group at Microsoft, said in a statement. "Aluratek and Coby Electronics are the latest two companies to recognise the value of Microsoft IP in Android and Chrome, joining the majority of Android vendors in taking a license for this IP."

Microsoft has previously signed patent licensing deals with companies like HTC, Samsung, Suanta, Copal Electronics, Wistron, LG, and Pegatron.

Though Coby and Aluratek are smaller players, the deal is noteworthy because Microsoft has been waging very public patent battles over its Android-based technology, as have its rivals. Microsoft holds patents relating to navigation and how websites display content; technology used on the Android and Chrome platforms.

One of the more public fights in which Microsoft has been involved is with Motorola, now owned by Google. Last month, Motorola proposed a settlement that would end its patent dispute with Microsoft, but the Redmond, WA-based company was not exactly ready to sign on the dotted line.

In May, Google filed a complaint with the European Commission, accusing Nokia and Microsoft of mobile patent abuse. That came a month after the European Commission formally opened a patent abuse investigation into Motorola.

Questions about patent abuse prompted the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) within the UN to announce that it will hold a roundtable on 10 October with standards organisations, key industry players, and government officials at ITU headquarters in Geneva.

"The ITU Patent Roundtable will address the worldwide surge in patent litigation and the growing lack of adherence to standards bodies' existing patent policies. Topics include potential improvements to existing policy frameworks, entitlement to injunctive reliefs, and definitions of what constitutes a royalty base," the ITU said.

Microsoft will be among the participants in the roundtable. "Microsoft is pleased that the ITU is organising this global event to explore current issues related to RAND licensing commitments made to standards-setting bodies. We look forward to participating in this timely discussion," said Amy Marasco, general manager of Standards Strategy and Policy at Microsoft.