September 29, 2011
Samsung To Pay Microsoft For Android Device Royalties
Samsung has given up its patent battle against Microsoft and has agreed to pay license fees on every Android device it sells and to also work with the software giant on reviving the Windows Phone.
The US software company said the agreement, reached on Wednesday, will provide “broad coverage for each company´s products.” It said it will receive royalties for Samsung´s mobile phones and tablets running on Google´s popular Android OS.
Microsoft has accused Android of violating patents held by the software giant. Samsung is also under attack from Apple, who is suing the South Korean electronics maker for patent infringement on several continents.
Samsung follows several other top companies that joined forces with Microsoft over the past three months, including Acer, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic and Wistron.
“Together with the license agreement signed last year with HTC, today´s agreement with Samsung means that the top two Android handset manufacturers in the United States have now acquired licenses to Microsoft´s patent portfolio,” wrote Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith and deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez in a blog post.
“These two companies together accounted for more than half of all Android phones sold in the U.S. over the past year. That leaves Motorola Mobility, with which Microsoft is currently in litigation, as the only major Android smartphone manufacturer in the U.S. without a license,” they wrote.
Google responded sharply to the announcement that Samsung had agreed to pay royalties to Microsoft over Android.
“This is the same tactic we´ve seen time and again from Microsoft,” Google said in a statement.
“Failing to succeed in the smartphone market, they are resorting to legal measures to extort profit from others´ achievements and hinder the pace of innovation,” the Internet search giant said. “We remain focused on building new technology and supporting Android partners.”
Under the agreement, Samsung will also work with Microsoft in the development and marketing of the Windows Phone, Microsoft´s mobile operating system.
“Microsoft and Samsung see the opportunity for dramatic growth in Windows Phone and we're investing to make that a reality,” said Andy Lees, president of Microsoft´s Windows Phone Division.
“Through the cross-licensing of our respective patent portfolios, Samsung and Microsoft can continue to bring the latest innovations to the mobile industry,” Hong Won-Pyo, Samsung's executive vice president of global product strategy, told the AFP news agency.
Patent expert Florian Miller said the deal indicates that Samsung has given up looking for Microsoft to defend it.
“The substance and the timing of this announcement call into question the extent to which Google and its major hardware partners are committed to each other (apart from everyone's lip service),” he said.
“By taking a royalty-bearing license, Samsung recognizes that Android has intellectual property problems that must be resolved with license fees, and reduces to absurdity the idea that Google is going to be able to protect Android after the acquisition of Motorola Mobility,” Miller added.
Google is in the process of acquiring Motorola for $12.5 billion. Motorola has been vocal about Microsoft´s “hostile” tactics, which it believes to be a long-term strategy to hinder Android growth.
“They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices. Instead of competing by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation,” Google chief legal officer David Drummond remarked in a blog post.
It remains unclear whether Amazon.com has a similar patent deal with Microsoft over its newly unveiled Kindle Fire tablet -- which is also based on Google Android OS.
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