Samsung signs Microsoft patent licensing deal to cover Android devices

Microsoft has signed yet another patent-protection deal with an Android phone/tablet maker. This time it's Samsung which is paying Microsoft an undisclosed amount for licensing undisclosed patents.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft announced on September 28 that it has signed a patent-licensing deal with Samsung Electronics via which Samsung will be paying Microsoft undisclosed royalty payments to license undisclosed Microsoft patents.

"Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will receive royalties for Samsung’s mobile phones and tablets running the Android mobile platform," according to Microsoft's press release.

The deal sounds like the seven patent-protection agreements Microsoft has signed in the last three months with Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic and Wistron -- all of which were targeted at these vendors' Android-based phones and tablets.

(The Samsung deal also adds an agreement to "cooperate in the development and marketing of Windows Phone," Microsoft officials said.)

In an accompanying blog post from Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith and Deputy General Counsel Horracio Gutierrez, Microsoft used Samsung's agreement to take aim at Motorola Mobility, with whom Microsoft is currently involved in a legal struggle over claimed Android patent infringement.

From their just-published blog post:

"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. 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."

(It's worth noting that Motorola isn't the only company using Android that hasn't agreed to pay Microsoft for patent protection. Barnes & Noble also is still refusing to sign a similar patent agreement that would cover its Android-based Nook reader, not smartphones.)

Smith and Gutierrez also poked at Google, which has complained about Microsoft's intellectual-property-licensing tactics, in their blog post:

"We recognize that some businesses and commentators – Google chief among them – have complained about the potential impact of patents on Android and software innovation. To them, we say this: look at today’s announcement. If industry leaders such as Samsung and HTC can enter into these agreements, doesn’t this provide a clear path forward?"

The blog post also claims that "some mobile carriers" are the ones driving these kinds of patent-licensing deals "to address the patent issues that are important to the mobile marketplace."

Smith and Gutierrez also noted that Microsoft is "committed to entering into similar agreements with other handset manufacturers."

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