Microsoft to get Android royalties from Samsung in patent deal

28 Sep 2011

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Wi-Fi tablet computer

Microsoft has signed a deal with Samsung to cross license their patent portfolios, which will also see Samsung pay royalties to Microsoft for every Android tablet and smartphone it sells.

Microsoft already has a patent agreement with HTC, which sees the smartphone company pay royalties to Microsoft for each Android device sold.

The Samsung deal will give both companies greater patent coverage for each of their technologies. It also lets both companies co-operate in the development and marketing of Microsoft’s mobile OS Windows Phone.

“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 Windows Phone Division, Microsoft.

“Microsoft believes in a model where all our partners can grow and profit based on our platform,” he said.

“Through the cross-licensing of our respective patent portfolios, Samsung and Microsoft can continue to bring the latest innovations to the mobile industry,” said Dr Won-Pyo Hong, executive vice-president of global product strategy at Samsung’s mobile communication division.

“We are pleased to build upon our long history of working together to open a new chapter of collaboration beginning with our Windows Phone ‘Mango’ launch this fall.”

Patent wars

The deal follows numerous smartphone patents disputes, which includes Microsoft alleging that Motorola infringed its patents. A Microsoft blog post noted that Motorola does not have a licensing agreement with Microsoft.

Samsung has also been embroiled in legal disputes against Apple, which has seen several injunctions granted against its devices across the globe.

Microsoft believes that such licensing deals will help the technology industry in the long run.

“These agreements prove that licensing works. They show what can be achieved when companies sit down and address intellectual property issues in a responsible manner,” said Brad Smith and Horacio Gutierrez, general counsel and deputy general counsel at Microsoft.

“The rapid growth of the technology industry, and its continued fast pace of innovation are founded on mutual respect for IP. Intellectual property continues to provide the engine that incentivises research and development, leading to inventions that put new products and services in the hands of millions of consumers and businesses.

“We recognise 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?” they said.

However, they note that there will still be “additional drama” before the current patent issues in the technology industry resolve themselves.