For a long time now, we've heard of Microsoft collecting money from Android OEMs like HTC, Motorola and Samsung. That's because a lot of the technology that Android smartphones – and most other smartphones for that matter – was invented long before these mobile operating systems. Things like the FAT filesystem that Android uses for SD cards and such. Recently, Microsoft has been under some scrutiny as to their acquisition of Nokia's handset business and in China, the authorities have taken a very close look indeed, and to go along with their investigation, they've published a list of patents that Microsoft feel are related to smartphones in general, as well as Android smartphones. It's a long list, and as it's in Chinese, hard to sift through, but the folks at Ars Technica have been through it and the usual suspects are present.
On April 8th, Microsoft wrote a blog post detailing the Chinese authorities' findings and said that they had come to the conclusion that Microsoft controlled somewhere in the region of 200 patent families needed to make an Android smartphone. The list released by the Chinese authorities comes in a longer 300 or so patent list, and then a smaller, more focused list of around 100 patents. The longer list is split into 73 SEP (Standard Essential Patents), 127 patents that Microsoft feels are needed to build an Android smartphone and then non-SEP patents of 42 issued, and 68 applications. In this list are a number of interesting patents such as 8,255,379 dubbed the "Customer Local Search" patent to those picked up from the ashes of Nortel – which Microsoft got their hands on through the Rockstar Consortium – like the 5,982,324 patent which relates to pairing GPS and cellular devices together. A pretty potent, general use patent that Microsoft got out of Nortel is of course the 6,430,174 patent that describes a communication platform capable of both voice and multimedia.
A lot of the patents that Microsoft can use against Android partners relate to Exchange sync, the exFAT file system and presumably a great deal of patents from Nortel. It's almost been something of a joke that Microsoft took the "licensing is the answer" approach in order to make more money from their competitors than they do from Windows Phone sales. It's rumored that the money Microsoft gets from Android manufacturers is in the region of $1 Billion to $2 Billion, so that joke may well be a reality for Microsoft. For more information on Microsoft's patent situation and how it relates to Android, take a look at the source link. It's certainly interesting to see something like this come out of the Nokia deal and it's hardly surprising that a company like Microsoft, who have been around for decades, have lots of patents relevant to sophisticated software platforms. Still, the large amount of patents held by Microsoft and co only only goes to show that we need more transparency in order to stop lawsuits like the Apple v Samsung trials.