Microsoft's secret list of Android patents revealed by Chinese government

Although Microsoft has a licensing agreement that cover over 70 percent of all Android devices sold in the US, the exact nature of the patents utilised by the Android ecosystem wasn't divulged, until now. As part of the regulatory sign-off of Microsoft's Nokia acquisition, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has published a list of 310 patents that highlight the technologies that Microsoft collects royalties on.

The Chinese agency found that 73 of the 310 patents were standard-essential, along with 127 patents that Microsoft claims are implemented in Android. The list also contains 110 non-standard essential patents along with the patents that Microsoft acquired during the Rockstar auction. MOFCOM launched the investigation to determine whether Microsoft would use its patent portfolio to gain an uncompetitive atmosphere following the closure of the Nokia deal.

It is estimated that the Microsoft nets around $1 to $2 billion in revenues from Android licensing agreements with several manufacturers, and that number is likely to grow by a large margin considering the growth of Android in emerging markets.

It is interesting that the list was discovered on the Chinese language version of MOFCOM, considering the English language site made no mention of the patent lists. Microsoft has come under criticism over the last few years for the way it handles patent litigation, which was highlighted in the Barnes & Noble case.

Microsoft has since been more forthcoming in revealing its patent portfolio, and has created a page that allows you to view and search all patents (opens in new tab) owned by the Redmond based organisation. However, the list does not indicate which particular patents are infringed by Android, which is why the list published by MOFCOM is significant.

To take a look at all the patents, click here to download the Word document.

Source: MOFCOM; Via: Ars Technica

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia for Android Central, Windows Central's sister site. When not reviewing phones, he's testing PC hardware, including video cards, motherboards, gaming accessories, and keyboards.

  • I wonder whether MS will ask them to unpublish it...
  • How will that help?? Its already disclosed to the world.
  • OEMs will change things next times so they don't have to pay or pay way less
  • It is not like they didnt have the chance so far.. well they clearly didnt bother getting in their own research team for different things :)
  • The thing is they couldn't performance and quality like Microsoft
  • Android has 127. If they want to make it less, they should install android 1.x ;)
  • That's y Microsoft always try competing more with apple and not with android. Even google doesn't earn that much from android what Microsoft does. Though its not our os. ButTrying to destroy android os will close Microsoft's one source of income and in the end we every company thinks about profit first. Microsoft is following the coolest strategy
  • Interesting fact: Apple and Microsoft have a cross patent license agreement. I.E. I don't sue you for patents you don't sue me and we can use each others stuff if we wish.
  • Yup, pretty much this.
  • I love Microsoft....!
  • +1
  • +1
  • That picture looks ugly! Has a mark on that logo poor Ms logo!
  • Must be a Chinese knock off. ;)
  • LOL
  • Something like "we won't use your Windows 8, we will make our own copy..."
  • "made in china"
  • It's a close up of one of the nice bags the Microsoft Store puts your new, smaller-sized purchases in, instead of an ordinary cheap plastic bag.
  • Microsoft owns
  • Everyone that sells your research/work should pay for it...
  • If they have these patents, why they don't use them on Windows Phone ?
  • They already use it. For example, media control in taskbar. As for the rest mostly applied to lower level.
    This is from my observation with basic programming skill. Someone with more knowledge hopefully can answer you very well :)
  • They hadn't used them earlier coz at that time android had the was an upcoming platform and hence it would have become difficult to fight against android at that time...moreover,unlike google,microsoft have to see many divisions giving time to wp was tough But and ios are stagnant...they could now merely introduce few graphical and useless updates
    And on the other hand, microsoft could come up with new and better hardware(eg kinect,etc) and build wp with a stronger base than android and ios. . In short, msft has earned revenue for "4 YEARS" by remaining dormant And now for the next 40 years, it would earn revenue by being at the top...!!
  • And then you woke up and saw that Microsoft still has 4-5% market share ;-)
  • Android sold more device = Microsoft is big Boss of them to get more royalty of Android revenue.
  • They only gain like 1b annually. So it's not really harmful for big Android companies, it's just terrible for new manufaturers. 
  • Of course, those poor new manufacturers could just, you know, use the free WP OS.
  • That's the dick way for forcing it.
  • Does it really change anything though. I mean Google doesn't really lose anything from Android despite the hardware profit going partially to MS. Google still makes their revenue from the software inside, not selling the phones themselves.
    This is more of MS affecting the Andorid OEMs rather than Google itself.
    Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • That means OEMs would consider making WPs instead of Androids to avoid the fees.
  • And, how has that been working out?
  • Not yet ... For now. Well ... The decision is just announced some months ago. And up until now, more and more OEMs announcing that they will make WP devices (some already made ones). Of course, overtook Android won't happen in the near future. But for the long run, who knows :)
  • Greetings from China. Seems to be working out just fine. Every day we hear of another Chinese, Taiwanese or even Indian phone manufacturer dumping Android and making Windows phones.  Watch this space.
  • Google doesn't make a penny from Android itself, it's open source and they give it away freely. It's advertising and Google services used on these phones where they make any kind of profit. MS nets all their royalties from the OEMs so they're not really hurting Google directly at all. Indeed the fact that Google giving away its operating system having pushed Microsoft to do the same ultimately makes Google the real winner here since they were able to force the competition to play their game in order to compete.
  • Actually from "Android" they do. The word Android comes a fee, now the OS is free but you cannot brand it as an Android device without forking cash over to Google.
  • I'm not sure how you came up with that, but you're wrong. OEM's do not pay money to Google for Android. The AOSP version is open source, and free for manufacturers to use as they wish. If they want to use any of Googles services like the Play Store or Maps, then they have to include ALL of Googles services on the device. Google DOES NOT charge OEM's for any version of Android.
  • Yes they do. They charge fees for using GMS (Google maps, Google voice, etc...), but you're right that they don't charge for AOSP. See, the rub of that is that only Chinese knockoff phones, Amazon, and Nokia use that version, so for the big players in mobile (Samsung, LG, HTC) who really use GMS because they almost have to, it makes them more willing to use WP.
  • That is utter bull. Where do you get this from? As long as the OEM follows Googles branding guidelines (i.e. using the trademark symbol, crediting Google, etc) they are charged nothing.
  • And, of course, Google can do that because rather than spend billions on r&d to develop their own unique OS, they simple stole huge chunks of WM
  • I wonder how Kitkat and previous versions of Android came to existance.
  • It means that Microsoft earns as Android grows.
  • +Icon
  • I don't understand anything about this post. Can anyone tell me
  • What part don't you understand?
  • No wonder they are not very interested in windows phones...
  • yep its a win-win-win for microsoft in every direction now
  • I think its funny, frankly. They're getting their asses handed to them by android and yet they still profit. Lol
  • And the more their asses get handed to them by android, the more profit they make from it. I think somebody said it very well: Microsoft is not just in a win-win situation with android but win-win-win all the way. Yes, you're right, it IS funny LOL!
  • It's hilarious! But it's also smart, if you ask me. ;)
  • See google who is the is the chief of ur OS...
  • I don't see how this is significant of knowing. I'm pretty sure companies that make android phones are already aware of the patents.
  • I think its a smear campaign
  • Of course...oem knew what rhey were paying for...
    But not the users...!! Microsoft didn't wanted to make this public...
    Coz this would have changed people's perspective towards Windows phone... Which Microsoft didn't wanted to happen...
  • The Chinese government really loathes Microsoft as of late. Releasing this information is intentional to help other OEMs bypass or not use patents that earn royalties for Microsoft.
  • Pretty sure the patents relate to some pretty fundamental shit in the Android OS. If an OEM didn't want to pay Microsoft, they might have to consider using a different OS. This disclosure by the Chinese should have very little, if any, impact on that.
  • They what is their motive if it has little to no impact?   They mean to make MS the bad guys....again.
  • Microsoft Rules!!!
  • Also, it's reasons like these patents why MS focuses more on products and services for other platforms before WP.  MS makes more money this way.  MS is first and formost a software company.  They see Android and Apple and its users as customers, and understandably so.  With that said, as a WP fan, I want the winds of change to make WP a priority. 
  • This doesn't surprise me. China rips off every brand in existence, they really have no shame as a nation.
  • Blue screen of death is patented??
  • MS about to take Ova Android watch
  • So Mr gates is the father of all these type of things. First helped apple come back up. Now android patents. Giving Cortana to other operating systems. Wow. Great!
  • So even when they lose they win. Genius!
  • Can't they stop android from being sold ????
  • Patent Trolls 
  • China government is so stupid! Everyone knows that Android security is SO FUXKING BAD!
  • What's particulary hillarious about this is the Chinese government has recently been shouting about the "evil" technology of the West and how it's being used to "spy" on China and it's citizens, and that the Chinese should be developing their own technologies to replace foreign ones.  So I can just imagine they're using this to show how bad Microsoft is, and yet, back home, the whole thing backfires.  LOL!