By Ina Fried
Microsoft is announcing today the biggest Android-related patent deal to date, signing a broad cross-licensing agreement with Samsung.
With the deal, Microsoft will get royalty revenue on every Android smartphone and tablet that Samsung sells. Redmond already has a deal with another major handset maker -- HTC -- that sells both Android and Windows Phone devices.
"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 IP lawyer Horacio Gutierrez said in a blog post. "These two companies together accounted for more than half of all Android phones sold in the U.S. over the past year."
The pair point out that the list of licensees notably excludes the No. 3 player in the Android market in the U.S. -- Motorola Mobility.
Microsoft sued Motorola, as well as Barnes & Noble, over Android-related patent claims. Meanwhile, Redmond inked licensing deals with several other companies, including Acer and ViewSonic, and several lesser-known companies.
While much of the focus around the Samsung agreement is likely to concern patents and Android, the deal also calls for the companies to continue to work together on Windows Phone.
"Microsoft and Samsung see the opportunity for dramatic growth in Windows Phones and we're investing to make that a reality," Windows Phone unit president Andy Lees said in a statement.
In the blog post, Smith and Gutierrez point to the deals with Samsung and HTC as a model for the industry.
"These agreements prove that licensing works," the lawyers wrote. "They show what can be achieved when companies sit down and address intellectual property issues in a responsible manner."