Microsoft is taking Samsung to court after it suddenly stopped paying per-device royalties on its Android-powered smartphones and tablets. The South Korean company has allegedly refused to hand over a penny since Microsoft acquired Nokia’s hardware business late last year.
Google’s Android platform infringes a number of Microsoft patents, but rather than exercising its legal right to prevent the software from being distributed, Microsoft licenses those patents to the companies who use the Android operating system. Since 2011, the company has had an “extremely lucrative” royalty deal in place with Samsung — and other device manufacturers.
However, Samsung believes that Microsoft invalidated the cross-platform IP agreement when it acquired Nokia and ended up with its own handset business. “Samsung began using the acquisition as an excuse to breach its contract,” Microsoft says in a blog post, so Redmond is now asking a judge to resolve the issue.
“We don’t take lightly filing a legal action, especially against a company with which we’ve enjoyed a long and productive partnership,” writes David Howard, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel. “Unfortunately, even partners sometimes disagree.”
“After spending months trying to resolve our disagreement, Samsung has made clear in a series of letters and discussions that we have a fundamental disagreement as to the meaning of our contract.”
Samsung didn’t take legal action itself when it believed Microsoft invalidated its agreement, “likely because it knew its position was meritless,” Howard says. Instead, it simply stopped paying up. Microsoft insists, however, that it still “values and respects” its partnership with Samsung and does not expect a court battle to damage it.
“We are simply asking the Court to settle our disagreement, and we are confident the contract will be enforced,” Howard concludes.