Microsoft hinted at a more aggressive strategy towards patent royalty agreements, as the company’s general counsel Brad Smith suggested all Android products infringe on Microsoft’s patents.
“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents,” Smith said to AllThingsD.
Smith also touched on its Wednesday agreement with Samsung, in which the South Korean company will pay Microsoft royalties to license Android patents in its products.
“I think it sends a clear signal to everybody else in the market that we now have a clear path forward for resolving issues that are clearly on everybody’s mind,” he added.
Smith’s comments hint at Microsoft’s long-term plans to seek further patent settlements with Android handset and tablet makers. Android makers LG, Sony Ericsson, and perhaps even Amazon’s new Android-based Kindle Fire may be the next companies approached by Microsoft, according to Smith.
Microsoft already receives money from Android manufacturer HTC, which pays the company $5 for every handset sold, than from sales in its own Windows Phone division. ViewSonic, Acer, and a host of smaller companies this month also recently agreed to give Microsoft a cut of their Android-based handset sales.
As Windows Phone ekes out a smaller share of the U.S. smartphone market compared to Android, royalty payments on its Android patents are one way Microsoft earns revenue in mobile.
In addition, Microsoft has a pending suit against Barnes and Noble’s Nook e-reader, alleging its Android tablet infringes on the Redmond, Wash.-based company’s patents. The software giant targeted Motorola last month as well, requesting the International Trade Commission ban its Android-based devices in the U.S.
In each case, Microsoft alleges Google’s mobile OS infringed on its patents, leading analysts to suggest the company was waging a proxy war on its Mountain View, Calif.-based rival. Android maker Google also predicted the software giant’s legal tactics will stifle Android phone makers.
“This is the same tactic we’ve seen time and again from Microsoft,” Google stated. “Failing to succeed in the smartphone market, they are resorting to legal measures to extort profit from others’ achievements and hinder the pace of innovation.”
Google does not own as many patents as its older Washington-based rival, making it difficult for the search giant to defend its Android partners against Microsoft’s onslaught. Google did recently acquire Motorola and its 17,000 patents, and even loaned some to HTC as ammunition against Apple.
Google, if it continues to buy up patents, may yet put up a solid defense against Microsoft’s focus on Android royalty payments. However, Microsoft appears to be on roll, with the Samsung agreement serving as a major milestone, a point Smith underscored.
“I think there is a good chance we will look back at today and say this was the day that we reached a tipping point in the market.”