Microsoft stabs at Google with Samsung patent-licensing deal for Android

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) struck a wide-ranging patent-licensing deal with Samsung Electronics, agreeing to cross-license the two companies' entire patent portfolios in a move that is another strike against Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform. Under the terms of the deal, Samsung will pay Microsoft an undisclosed royalty fee for every smartphone and tablet it sells running Android.

Interestingly, the deal with Samsung also calls for more collaboration between the two companies on Microsoft's Windows Phone platform.

Taken together with recent patent-licensing deals Microsoft inked with smaller Android licensees as well as a larger one last year with HTC, the deal with Samsung amounts to Microsoft's boldest attempt yet to stick a thorn in the side of Android, which has become the world's dominant mobile operating system. Microsoft struck patent-licensing deals in the past few months with Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, 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," Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith and top intellectual property lawyer Horacio Gutierrez wrote in a Microsoft 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 (NYSE:MMI), with which Microsoft is currently in litigation, as the only major Android smartphone manufacturer in the U.S. without a license."

Google announced plans in August to acquire Motorola for $12.5 billion, in part for its patent portfolio.

"We recognize that some businesses and commentators--Google chief among them--have complained about the potential impact of patents on Android and software innovation," the Microsoft lawyers wrote. "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?"

For more:
- see this Microsoft blog post
- see this release

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