Samsung leaves sinking ship, signs patent deal with Microsoft

Samsung gives in to Microsoft, apparently not expecting help from Google
Emma Woollacott

September 29, 2011
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Samsung’s become the latest Android vendor to sign a patent agreement with Microsoft, promising to pay the company license fees on every Android phone and tablet it sells.

The two companies have also agreed to work together on Windows Phone, on which some Samsung phones are already based.

No value was given for the cross-licensing agreement, which brings to an end a period of increasing acrimony between the two companies. However, reports from Korea have suggested that Microsoft’s been asking for around $10 to $15 per device.

The move leaves Motorola Mobility - currently being acquired by Google - as the only major Android vendor in the US without a license. It’s still mired in a legal battle with Microsoft over the issue.

In the last three months, though, Microsoft’s won agreement from Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic and Wistron.

According to patent expert Florian Mueller, the deal indicates that Samsung doesn’t believe it can look to Google for support.

“If Samsung truly believed that Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility was going to be helpful to the Android ecosystem at large, it would have waited until that deal is closed before concluding the license agreement with Microsoft,” he suggested.

“But Samsung probably knows it can’t rely on Google. It decided to address Android’s intellectual property issues on its own.”

He suggests that it’s only a matter of time until Motorola Mobility is forced to settle with Microsoft. And Microsoft, certainly, is keen to persuade Google that it’s time to leave a sinking ship.

“We recognize that some businesses and commentators – Google chief among them – have complained about the potential impact of patents on Android and software innovation,” said Brad Smith and Horacio Gutierrez, the company’s general and deputy general counsels.

“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?”

Google’s unlikely to be tempted, given that it’s decided to acquire Motorola Mobility purely as an aid in its patent battles.

The agreement at least gives Samsung a chance to focus on its other big legal headache - its litigation with Apple. Today, the two companies are meeting in an Australian court, with Apple attempting to win an injunction banning sales of the Samsung Galaxy tablet.


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