Samsung Inks Android Royalty Pact with Microsoft

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There’s intriguing news from the world of technology patents. Samsung has just agreed to pay royalties to Microsoft, just the latest Android phone and tablet maker to seek shelter as Google evolves into a potential hardware rival. Samsung joins HTC and other manufacturers in what one patent watcher Wednesday called “the most important Android-related intellectual property deal in its own right.”

Microsoft has become a shelter for Android device makers seeking to protect themselves both from Apple and Google, which with the acquisition of Motorola Mobility, moves from solely a software firm to a possibly competing hardware maker. The licensing deals indicate that “Samsung probably knows it can’t rely on Google. It decided to address Android’s intellectual property issues on its own,” writes the blog FOSSPatents.

When Google first announced it’s $12.5 billion deal to buy Motorola Mobility, observers viewed the 17,000 wireless patents that came with the purchase as a bonanza for Android firms threatened by infringement lawsuits by Apple. Indeed, Google has handed-out the patents to Android players. Recently, HTC expressed confidence it would win a lawsuit against the Cupertino, Calif. iPhone maker after receiving some of the Motorola patent cache. Like Samsung, HTC appears to be hedging its bets, by also agreeing to license technology from Microsoft.

So, Microsoft, which has failed to so far catch iOS and Android, may have a backdoor strategy of becoming the protector for non-Apple handsets. Samsung becomes the largest Android manufacturer to also put faith in that vision.