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Microsoft and General Dynamics Itronix Ink Android Deal

Microsoft today chalked up yet another intellectual property win against the Linux-based Android mobile operating system.

This time, Microsoft struck a deal with General Dynamics Itronix, a Sunrise, Fla.-based maker of ruggedized computers for the military, public service, professional and industrial market sectors. Under the agreement announced today, General Dynamics Itronix, a business unit subsidiary of the weapons manufacturer, will pay royalties to Microsoft for the use of intellectual property in Android in some Itronix devices.

Spokespersons from both companies did not provide any terms details. However, a spokesperson for General Dynamics Itronix did say that "The General Dynamics Itronix GD300, rugged, body-worn computer is based on the Android operating system."

Microsoft's deputy general counsel indicated Microsoft was "pleased" with the agreement. A director at General Dynamics Itronix said that the agreement will help meet the needs of Itronix customers when using the Android platform.

Likely we'll see more such deals over Android and patents asserted by Microsoft in the near future. Microsoft settled with mobile device maker HTC over its use of Android back in April of last year.

Microsoft currently has legal battles over Android intellectual property use with Motorola and Barnes & Noble, both of which have vowed to fight in the courts. Motorola and Microsoft have already had a hearing via a venue with the U.S. International Trade Commission in which Microsoft has so far scored more points than Motorola in interpreting patent claims.

Barnes & Noble rolled out a legal defense of its Nook electronic book reader devices in April of this year. Microsoft claimed that two Nook devices, which use the Android mobile OS, had infringed on Microsoft's patents. The bookseller rebutted the allegations, saying in a legal brief that Microsoft is really attacking Android's market position and that its intellectual property claims about the Nook are based on "five insubstantial and trivial features." Microsoft is misusing the patent system to eliminate competition to its Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system, the Barnes & Noble legal brief claimed.

Microsoft infamously declared in 2007 that Linux infringed on 235 of Microsoft's patents, without specifying at the time which patents were involved. The declaration caused a furor among open source Linux advocates at the time. Google, which fostered the Linux-based Android operating system, does not offer indemnity to the companies that use it, although Google apparently does provide some legal council on the matter. A spokesperson for Google had no comment on the patents involved in the General Dynamics Itronix case.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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