Wed, Mar 13, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Gou blasts Microsoft for patent fee spat

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), a major assembler of Apple Inc’s iPhones, yesterday said that Microsoft Corp could not require it to pay licensing fees for patents, as it was not a manufacturer of Android smartphones.

Hon Hai’s comments came after the US software giant on Friday last week accused the company based in New Taipei City’s Tucheng District (土城) of not complying with a 2013 patent-licensing agreement.

Microsoft on Friday last week told CNBC that Hon Hai had not paid royalties on time since the agreement was inked.

“As contract manufacturers, Hon Hai and its subsidiaries have never been required to pay royalties for software based on manufacturing contracts with clients,” Hon Hai founding chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) told a news conference streaming live on Gou’s Facebook page.

“It is their responsibility to negotiate and pay the patent-licensing fees directly to the patent holders, as we have been told by our clients more than once,” Gou added.

Hon Hai would remain unscathed by the lawsuit, Gou said, attempting to reassure shareholders.

Microsoft is targeting Chinese smartphone vendors, Gou said, but added that the US company did not dare to sue Chinese firms for uncollected royalties for fear of being boycotted by Chinese consumers.

As an Android smartphone assembler for major international vendors such as Huawei Technologies Co (華為), FIH Mobile Ltd (富智康), a Hong Kong-listed firm that is 62.8 percent owned by Hon Hai, claims to have been targeted by Microsoft.

FIH has been instructed by its clients to pay Android patent-licensing fees on their behalf to avoid lawsuits, the company said yesterday.

“Microsoft is extending its hegemony from the PC era and Hon Hai has become a scapegoat,” Gou said, adding that he suspects that the US corporation filed the lawsuit at a critical juncture in the US-China trade talks.

The licensing talks have been going on for seven or eight years, but Microsoft quietly filed the lawsuit all of a sudden, he said, adding: “The [patent] war should be between Microsoft and Google.”

“Microsoft is bullying Taiwanese companies and intending to take advantage of US-China trade talks to sue Hon Hai,” Gou said. “Microsoft intends to make US and China include it in a protected economic zone.”

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