The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Tuesday announced that it has approved our purchase of Nokia’s Devices and Services business subject to certain conditions. MOFCOM’s decision effectively adopts Microsoft’s current patent licensing practices. In reaching its decision, MOFCOM concluded after its investigation that Microsoft holds approximately 200 patent families that are necessary to build an Android smartphone.
MOFCOM’s approval is based on a set of commitments which we’ve discussed with MOFCOM during the past few months (the English version of the commitments is here). There was an important principle with which MOFCOM approached these discussions from the beginning: any commitments should be focused on how our future conduct might change after we own the Nokia Devices and Services business, and should not impact our licenses signed in the past or historical practices. It has never been our intent to change our practices after we acquire the Nokia business, so while we disagreed with the premise that our incentives might change in the future, we were happy to discuss commitments on this basis.
The broad sets of commitments to which Microsoft agreed can be found here. But in a nutshell, it seems Microsoft has been asked to respect SEP licensing FRAND guidelines, make its non-SEP patents available to Android manufacturers in China and not to transfer any of the annexed non-SEP patents to anyone else for the period of 5 years from the date of Chinese ministry’s approval date.