Quanta Computer, the manufacturer that helped create the PlayBook and the Amazon Kindle Fire, signed an agreement with Microsoft stating it would pay license fees to use the Android operating system. While it seems incredulous that any company must pay to use free software, Quanta is not the first company to do so, and it will not be the last.
Here are some tidbits about the Android Licensing fees and the companies that agreed to pay them.
* The Microsoft and Quanta license agreement covers Android OS and the Chrome platform.
* The agreement covers devices such as smartphones, tablet PCs and other mobile devices using Android or Chrome. This includes the Android-based Amazon Kindle Fire, which Quanta helped develop.
* This is not Amazon's first brush with Microsoft licensing. Amazon and Microsoft signed an agreement covering the company's use of Linux in February 2010, which covers the Kindle line of e-readers.
* Amazon can access Microsoft Patents and Amazon pays royalties to Microsoft in the cross patent agreement.
* Samsung agreed to pay Microsoft royalties for Android OS in a cross patent licensing deal in September. The agreement covers smartphones and tablet PCs.
* As a cross patent agreement, Samsung and Microsoft access either company's patents.
* Samsung and Microsoft also agreed the two would develop the Windows Phone operating system jointly.
* Wistron and Microsoft signed an agreement in September for licensing the use of Android for its e-readers, smartphones, tablet PCs and other devices using the OS.
* On Sept. 8, Acer agreed to license Android OS and Chrome from Microsoft for use with Acer smartphones and tablet PCs. Acer will pay royalties for the use of both platforms.
* ViewSonic and Microsoft signed an agreement to pay royalties for Android OS and Chrome on Sept. 8. The agreement covers ViewSonic's tablets and smartphones.
* HTC and Microsoft signed a patent licensing agreement in April 2010 that covers HTC's popular Android smartphones.
* The one company that refuses to sign a patent agreement is Motorola.
* Microsoft retaliated by filing a lawsuit against Motorola for patent and intellectual property infringement on Oct. 10, 2010.
* The Microsoft vs. Motorola battle claims infringement of nine patents that Microsoft states are "essential to the smartphone user experience."
* An agreement signed by Novell and Microsoft in November 2006 was the most important in the entire program.
* Novell was one of the major distributors of the Linux operating system, and the agreement opened the door to all other license agreements for Linux, Android and Chrome.
* If Novell had paid royalties Microsoft, or Microsoft to Novell, the agreement would have violated the GPL free license created by Richard Stallman. That license states that no person or company can patent open sourced software.
* To get around the license terms, both decided not to sue for infringement but instead Novell would share Linux revenue with Microsoft until 2011, with a stated minimum of $40 million.
* All agreements mentioned used Microsoft's Intellectual Property Licensing program.
* Microsoft started the IP Licensing Program in December 2003 so other companies could use Microsoft's R&D investments, patents and IP portfolios. Hundreds of companies license patents and intellectual property from Microsoft using this program.
* Since 2003, Microsoft as entered more than 700 IP license agreements.
* Microsoft currently offers seven Technology licensing programs, three Open Specifications Programs and three "Other" Protocol Licensing programs.
Jessica (JC) Torpey is a self-taught computer technician with more than 10 years experience in the field. JC's passion is studying the various political and business aspects of the technology industry. Combining that knowledge with her love of computers, JC uses it to influence her writing.