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Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 12:20 pm PT (03:20 pm ET)

Microsoft believes Android infringes on patents, HTC strikes deal

While Apple's patent lawsuit against HTC remains ongoing, the Taiwanese handset maker has reached a licensing agreement with Microsoft to avoid another lawsuit over its Android-powered handsets.

Microsoft announced this week that it has signed a patent agreement providing broad coverage under its patent portfolio for HTC's handsets running the Android operating system. The agreement states that Microsoft will receive royalties from HTC.

In addition to making smartphones running the Google Android mobile operating system, HTC is also the largest creator of handsets powered by Microsoft's Windows Mobile.

"HTC and Microsoft have a long history of technical and commercial collaboration, and today’s agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercial arrangements that address intellectual property," said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft. "We are pleased to continue our collaboration with HTC."

But while the agreement between HTC and Microsoft prevents any potential dispute between those companies, others who create Android smartphones could still be a target of the Windows maker. Ina Fried at CNet reported that Microsoft officials believe that Google's Android mobile operating system infringes on patented technology owned by the Redmond, Wash., software giant. Gutierrez provided a statement to CNet that noted Microsoft must make sure "competitors do not free ride on our innovations."

Fried noted that Microsoft, in the past, has alleged that Linux-based products infringe on its patents, and has sought licensing deals with those who make those products. Android is based on Linux, but Microsoft declined to detail which parts of the Android operating system it believes are infringing.

The agreement between HTC and Microsoft comes as HTC is facing a lawsuit from Apple over the alleged infringement of 20 iPhone-related patents. Apple specifically cited both Android and Windows Mobile phones in its lawsuit, but the complaint is largely believed to revolve around Google's Android operating system.

In March, Microsoft's future deal with HTC was foreshadowed when Brad Smith, general counsel and senior vice president with Microsoft, said that Apple's lawsuit against HTC might help sort out intellectual property issues in the mobile space. Microsoft did not formally take a side in the dispute, but said it was "not necessarily a bad thing."