Microsoft sues Samsung over unpaid Android patent royalties

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Microsoft on Friday filed a lawsuit with a New York district court claiming Samsung is in breach of an Android patent cross-licensing contract after failing to turn over an undisclosed amount in royalty payments.

While the court filing has yet to be made public, Microsoft's deputy general counsel David Howard offered a brief overview of the complaint in a post to the company's official blog.

"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," Howard writes.

Samsung apparently decided to break a 2011 patent licensing deal in which the Korean company agreed to pay Microsoft royalties on sales of smartphones and tablets running the Android operating system. Microsoft has secured a number of similar IP licensing deals with various device manufacturers.

According to Howard, Samsung is attempting to sidestep the contract by saying Microsoft's purchase of Nokia invalidated the agreement.

"In September 2013, after Microsoft announced it was acquiring the Nokia Devices and Services business, Samsung began using the acquisition as an excuse to breach its contract," Howard writes. "Curiously, Samsung did not ask the court to decide whether the Nokia acquisition invalidated its contract with Microsoft, likely because it knew its position was meritless."

Howard notes Samsung's huge share of the Android device marketplace, and therefore the smartphone market as a whole, saying the Korean tech giant stopped complying with contract terms "late last year." Interestingly, Samsung reported disappointing earnings on Thursday, citing heightened competition in the smartphone space.

As for the lawsuit's future, Samsung has yet to issue an official response, though Howard feels a copacetic conclusion can be reached in court.

"Microsoft values and respects our partnership with Samsung and expects it to continue," he writes. "We are simply asking the Court to settle our disagreement, and we are confident the contract will be enforced."