Samsung joins HTC in paying Microsoft for Android
Samsung and HTC together made half of the Android phones that shipped this year. Microsoft, which owns patents Android relies on, will now benefit from each activation.
Samsung, Microsoft announced this morning, is the seventh Android device manufacturer to sign a patent cross-licensing agreement with it in the last three months. As industry-wide patent suits grow uglier (Unfiltered: Patent lawsuits take a cold war turn), the win is a notable feather in Microsoft's hat.
HTC reportedly pays Microsoft $5 for every Android-running HTC handset that's activated. In a blog post, Brad Smith and Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's general counsel and deputy general counsel, respectively, didn't offer dollar figures but said that the agreement with Samsung gives both companies greater patent coverage and "opens the door to a deeper partnership in the development of new phones for the Windows Phone platform."
With the Windows Phone Mango update finally launched (MDP: Here Comes Windows Phone 7.5) and Nokia handsets running the OS due later this year, Microsoft has big hopes for its own OS. Until then, however, it seems pleased to be benefitting, however indirectly, from its competitors' successes.
Samsung and HTC are together responsible for more than 50% of the Android devices that shipped this year, the Microsoft team added. And with Acer, General Dynamics, Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic and Wistron having already signed deals with Microsoft, the only company still fighting back is Motorola, which is now owned by Google.
One can imagine the particular pleasure it would give Microsoft to receive payments from Google for each Android phone it activates (currently 300,000 a day, give or take).
"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," the pair wrote, adding that Google, which has complained of the impacts of patents on software innovation, should take note of the "clear path forward" that Samsung and HTC's concessions provide.
Taking the argument farther, they also dragged in the carriers.
"Some carriers have called for companies to enter into precisely these types of agreements to address the patent issues that are important to the mobile marketplace," the team added. "This clearly makes sense. This is how companies have dealt with prior patent issues relating to radio and media technologies for mobile devices. As today’s announcement illustrates, we have now done this for software technologies as well, and we’re committed to entering into similar agreements with other handset manufacturers."
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