Microsoft has expanded its patent turf war against Google beyond Android and into Chrome.
This morning, Microsoft and hardware maker LG signed a deal to licence Microsoft patents for use in Android and Chrome OS devices.
The Android part of the deal is old hat. Microsoft has signed similar deals with many other Android resellers, including giant phone makers like Samsung and HTC, and has filed lawsuits against others who refused to take a licence, like Motorola and Barnes & Noble.
But last summer, Microsoft began signing deals that cover Chrome as well. The first one publicly disclosed was with Wistron, a spin-off of Acer. Then came display manufacturer ViewSonic, Quanta, and Compal. LG is the most prominent manufacturer yet.
Why does this matter? Because Chrome isn’t just a (little used) operating system for portable devices. The same exact technology goes into the Chrome browser, which is now the second most popular browser in the world after Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
Microsoft’s top IP lawyer Horacio Gutierrez defended the move on Twitter, noting that licensing has long been the accepted way of settling IP disputes in other areas.
He’s right. And Microsoft absolutely has the right to assert patent claims, like any other company.
But Google and its partners should be aware that these claims are not just about Android any more.