Samsung’s attempts to dominate the global smartphone market have taken a new turn as a result of Microsoft’s own efforts to promote its Windows Phone OS. The two giants’ collaborations have now ended in an exchange of lawsuits, with Microsoft claiming that Samsung owes $6.9 million in interest on over $1 billion of delayed patent royalties in a case filed in the southern District of New York. Samsung is now counter-claiming that the original agreement is void, since Microsoft is now a hardware competitor since its purchase of Nokia.
Samsung’s original royalty agreements with Microsoft covers parts of the Android OS that are still Microsoft patented – an unexpectedly lucrative revenue stream for Redmond. But the agreements also covered work by Samsung on developing and retailing its own Windows Phone OS phones, something which Samsung has actually found it quite hard to do. Samsung apparently fears possible charges of “collusion” over the continuing tieup now that Nokia is in Microsoft’s hands, but most commentators appear to follow Reuters in attributing all this to the Korean giant’s attempt to stop sharing intellectual property and competitive information with Microsoft, as it is required to do under the terms of the original agreement.
Microsoft’s late April acquisition of Nokia has of course gone down as a classic case of two lame ducks (in the smartphone segment at least) leaning on each other, with Microsoft’s latest plans to drop the Nokia brand not exactly adding any luster to the story. But it’s interesting to see that Samsung should come across as the unwitting fall guy and butt in Microsoft’s plans to push further into the smartphone arena. Windows Phone OS does not seem to be bringing a whole lot of luck to anyone involved with it.