Samsung agrees to pay Microsoft royalties for Android

Samsung’s given up its patent battle with Microsoft, agreeing to pay license fees on every Android device it sells and to work with Microsoft on Windows Phone.

It joins Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic and Wistron, all of which have signed similar deals with Microsoft over the last three months.

“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,” say Brad Smith and Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft’s general and deputy general counsels.

“These two companies together accounted for more than half of all Android phones sold in the US over the past year. That leaves Motorola Mobility, with which Microsoft is currently in litigation, as the only major Android smartphone manufacturer in the US without a license.

According to patent expert Florian Mueller, the deal indicates that Samsung’s given up looking to Microsoft to defend it.

“The substance and the timing of this announcement call into question the extent to which Google and its major hardware partners are committed to each other (apart from everyone’s lip service),” he says.

“By taking a royalty-bearing license, Samsung recognizes that Android has intellectual property problems that must be resolved with license fees, and reduces to absurdity the idea that Google is going to be able to protect Android after the acquisition of Motorola Mobility.”

The agreement also allows Samsung to focus on its biggest patent nightmare – the ongoing litigation with Apple. Today, Apple is attempting to persuade an Australian court to issue an injunction banning sales of the Samsung Galaxy tablet.