Yesterday, we learnt that Microsoft had sued Kyocera Corporation for alleged patent infringement by three of the Japanese company's handsets, the Duraforce, Hydro and Brigadier devices. Microsoft claims that Kyocera's three devices violate seven Microsoft patents, covering technologies and developments designed to save power and increase battery life, accelerometers, location, motion sensing and text messaging. Microsoft's complaint says "…Microsoft was founded on innovation, and the company continues to choose the path of the innovator… But others have a different approach, waiting for innovators like Microsoft to bear the expense of developing new technologies and then incorporating the most successful inventions into their own products – without permission and without paying for the privilege…" Microsoft Deputy General Counsel, David Howard, said this on the matter: "We respect Kyocera but we believe they need to license the patented technology they are using. We're hopeful this case can be resolved amicably." Kyocera were unable for comment.
These three mentioned Kyocera handsets are ruggedized devices, offering customers a water resistant, go-anywhere device ideal for the more adventurous of us. These devices run Android and we've seen Microsoft sue other Android manufacturers in the past. However, in this case, these patents are different to those already mentioned in previous cases. Samsung, LG, ZTE and HTC currently have license arrangements in place with Microsoft and in previous comments, the company said that its licensing agreements cover eighty percent of Android devices sold in the United States. In this case, Microsoft asked a Seattle federal judge to impose a US sales injunction and financial damages against Kyocera's infringing devices.
This is a developing story and we will keep you updated when we hear anything new, such as a response from Kyocera. Meanwhile, it is a curiosity that Microsoft earns approximately $2 billion a year from Android patents, significantly more than it earns from licensing Windows Phone to manufacturers. Microsoft's focus appears to be changing from trying to sell Windows Phone to trying to sell the applications and products that customers want, most notably Microsoft Office and OneDrive, their productivity suite and cloud storage services respectively. However, despite this change of focus, clearly the American giant is keen to keep track of its patent portfolio.