|By Maureen O'Gara||
|April 25, 2013 10:45 AM EDT||
Microsoft announced Tuesday that ZTE, one of the world's biggest handset producers, had come to terms and signed a worldwide patent license agreement that will see Microsoft paid a royalty on all of the phones, tablets, computers and other devices the Chinese company makes that run Google's Android and Chrome operating systems.
It is Microsoft's first such deal with a leading Chinese manufacturer and reportedly took two years to close.
Microsoft deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez described the deal as similar to the one signed last week by Foxconn parent Hon Hai, which builds about 40% of the world's smartphones.
The ZTE arrangement leaves Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility inching closer to being the last man left standing.
Google continues to deny that Microsoft could have any legitimate claims on its code and Microsoft has never explained publicly what exactly they are, but apparently widgetry like its Flash-related Extended File Allocation Table (exFAt) is strong enough to have persuaded the makers of what Microsoft says amounts to 80% of the Android phones sold in the US and most of the those sold worldwide to sign on the dotted line and pay up.
That's about 20 device makers.
In a barely concealed reference to Google Microsoft said that "much of the current litigation in the so-called ‘smartphone patent wars' could be avoided if companies were willing to recognize the value of others' creations in a way that is fair."
Microsoft said it's paid out more than $4 billion in the last 10 years to secure IP rights itself.
"We have worked for multiple years to reach an amicable solution with the few global companies who have yet to take a license, but so far they have been unwilling to address these issues in a fair manner. We'd prefer to consider these companies licensing partners and remain hopeful they can join the rest of the industry in the near future."
Besides Google, Microsoft hasn't gotten Huawei yet either.
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