back to article Microsoft blasts sueball at Samsung over Android patent royalties

Microsoft filed a lawsuit against Samsung in a US court on Friday, claiming the Korean firm was in breach of an earlier cross-licensing agreement relating to Android technology patents. The two companies sealed their licensing deal in 2011, back in the days when Microsoft was threatening to sue all and sundry over patents …

A big player has sensed a weakness in the Microsoft game of applying these patents, if they force it to court, Microsoft will once and for all have to reveal what the patents are. Good on Samsung!

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Anonymous Coward

"A big player has sensed a weakness in the Microsoft game of applying these patents, if they force it to court, Microsoft will once and for all have to reveal what the patents are. Good on Samsung! "

I think you are rather deluded. Microsoft are highly likely to win this action, and as it's a breach of contract action, the patents in question won't come into it.

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@AC, you make a valid point that others sadly seem too lost in partisan fervour to want to acknowledge. There is absolutely no reason to expect that the patents will be discussed at all: the charges at issue are that Samsung aren't paying the agreed royalties, and (as seems to be their defence) Microsoft are breaking their side of the deal somehow. I don't see how the patents themselves are even relevant to either.

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Silver badge

That depends what they're suing for and if the contract specifies the patent.

If they're suing for breach of contract they would be suing for a penalty for the breach.

They appear to be suing to get Samsung to continue paying the fees as per the contract, if that is the case then the court will want to see the contract most likely.

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Anonymous Coward

"if that is the case then the court will want to see the contract most likely."

Sure - but the actual patents in question won't even be close to the RADAR - Samsung has already agreed to pay to license them. The only question here is 'is the contract still valid'?

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Silver badge

I wasn't suggesting that the court would invalidate the patent, or even invalidate the contract.

But it may well bring to light what the patents are that Android supposedly infringes.

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Anonymous Coward

@Phil W

the court will be uninterested in the patents themselves, unless they manage to convince the judge in some way that they are relevant in the question of their contract breach. In this endeavour they will fail, should they foolishly try, for a whole host of reasons.

Should Samsung succeed (which would be astonishing), MS can still petition the court for the details of the contract not be made public record. Samsung has already agreed not to talk about the details, so the court will readily accept MS's arguments as to commercial sensitivity etc. and Samsung won't have a leg to stand on.

a) Samsung will in all likelihood lose this case

b) The patents in the contract will not become public knowledge

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Facepalm

And here they are!

Those top secret patents microsoft doesn't want anyone to know about, courtesy of the Chinese government and The Verge.

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Stop

Re: And here they are!

And 99% of the are a crock of crap.

About the only "real" one is the FAT patent, but I would call that bogus, as the only reason we would want to format the SDCard in our phones and cameras using FAT rather than a more suitable file-system is because of desktop Windows dominance. So in effect they are using their dominance in one sector to force an extortion racket in another, which I believe contravenes one of the anti-trust categories.

The reason Samsung aren't paying is to force the issue in a court of law, that almost everything Microsoft has is worthless.

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Facepalm

Re: And here they are!

OMG, you mean such clear, precise and specific gems such as 6947490, "Cellular Radio Communications System" were not in fact invented by microsoft? How about 7440433, "Mobile IP Notification" - surely some well-paid patent attorney advised that one has no prior art whatsoever? Lets not forget 6822664, 7454718 and 7421666, "Browser Navigation for Devices With a Limited Input System", so good it's listed thrice.

In fact I'd better stop right now and El Reg needs to consult its lawyers about this very forum, lest they fall foul of the stunning breakthrough microsoft first presented to the world with US-2010-0082759-A1, "Communications Grouped As Conversations".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And here they are!

"And 99% of the are a crock of crap"

They sound like a strong list of relevant technology to using a Smartphone to me...which makes sense as many of the licensees are multibillion dollar companies that would fight if they didn't think the patents were enforceable.

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Re: And here they are!

I find it interesting that only the companies which didn't have any Microsoft Windows licenses fought back and then only signed any kind of deal once something else was put on the table. So it would seem that those NDA's kept Microsoft's Windows licensing partners quiet while they combined or made threats(offers they could not refuse) and making it look publicly like it was just Android patents.

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@Anonymoist Cowyard

Blame Google for the FAT thing, there's absolutely no reason why they had to use the FAT filesystem for SD cards in Android. FAT is actually quite ill-suited to getting decent performance out of flash, and Linux already includes other filesystems that are designed for flash.

SD cards are used in Android phones not for file transfer, but for adding to the installed flash storage, so what the hell difference does it make if your PC can read the card once the phone has formatted it? If it really HAD to, the problem could be easily solved by having people download a free driver from Google. I guess you'd lose the ability to have your phone directly read a card from your camera, but honestly, who the hell does that? Someone could build an app that lets you read FAT formatted SD cards if it was really an issue, and pay Microsoft the royalties (25 cents for each device is the price they charge for cameras) out of the money people would pay for the app (probably a princely $0.99)

I doubt this patent accounts for much when there are nearly 200 others, but whoever made the decision to use FAT for the SD cards in Android should be fired for incompetence. There was absolutely no reason to do this, and everyone knew that Microsoft had previously asserted ownership of FAT through patents so they should have known it would happen to them. The fact they didn't fix this in Android 4.0 after the lawsuits were already an issue is even stupider on their part.

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WTF?

Re: And here they are!

"the only 'real' one is the FAT patent"

I am unclear how Micro$oft could patent the FAT file system, since there is so much prior art. Apple computer and otheres were using FAT file systems over thirty years ago.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And here they are!

> "the FAT patent"

That old chestnut!

"How Linus Torvalds Helped Bust a Microsoft Patent"

http://www.wired.com/2012/03/ms-patent/

It's not a particularly strong patent because the mechanism it is based on has been discussed on the Linux kernel mailing list well before Microsoft got around to thinking this up.

It is a somewhat strong patent presumably because it's difficult to convince a judge that some unpaid nutters on a mailing list could come up with stuff - and share it with the world for free, no less - that Microsoft prides itself dishing out billions in R&D for.

In Germany the patent's been nullified at the end of 2013 (though I believe there's an appeal to come) partly on the basis of the above.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And here they are!

FAT is a lowest common denominator. It works well in Windows (obviously), but also OSX and Linux.

What else would you use?

If Apple supported MTP then all external devices could use that to abstract the filesystem type.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And here they are!

The patent is simple. If you want 8.3 filenames and long filenames with a FAT filesystem then you pay up.

If you don't want to pay then you use the long filenames only.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And here they are!

> The patent is simple. If you want 8.3 filenames and long filenames with a FAT filesystem then you pay up.

>

> If you don't want to pay then you use the long filenames only.

Which means being incompatible to the FAT filesystem, no?

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@DougS

Upvoted your post, can't agree with your finding though. The Linux kernel has no problem supporting many different fs, like ext* or btrfs etc. It's a pain to mount it automatically on many android devices other than Nexuses. I got to manually mount an ext2 sd card on my rooted noname device. As I understand the custom OEM mount scripts (various subs for fstab) are merely impossible to edit. In my case it's HTC that wrote it.

So, I guess, the only Google's fault here as in many other areas was not to enforce clear standards onto the OEMs

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And here they are!

If a multi billion dollar company gets pushed by MS over patents they have three choices

1 Do nothing and let MS take them to court. Costs millions takes years and there will be injunctions to stop them making and selling their devices.

2 Challenge the patents - same result as 1

3 Cough up a couple of 100K a year to MS and carry on as before

Tell me - what would you do? Remember those phones bring in a lot of money and you have shareholders to keep happy.

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Silver badge

Re: And here they are!

In fact I'd better stop right now and El Reg needs to consult its lawyers about this very forum, lest they fall foul of the stunning breakthrough microsoft first presented to the world with US-2010-0082759-A1, "Communications Grouped As Conversations".

That is a title of a patent, not the body. If you actually read the patent (here) and looked at the diagrams you'd see that your comment about having to stop before the Reg forums violated it was wrong. It's quite a specific design for showing nested conversations with accompanying icons that change according to the contents within that hierarchy of nested conversations. Like the patent or not, you've lied to try and support your agenda in saying the Reg forums would violate it. A patent title doesn't have legal weight as to what the patent covers - that's the body of the patent. A title is just that - a short hand to refer to it.

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Big Brother

Redmond asserting Android patents

"Redmond has since inked similar deals with dozens of Android device vendors, all without revealing any dollar amounts or even which patents it's actually asserting"

"Microsoft’s secret Android patents revealed"

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Microsoft is about to discover that they are not the boss any more.

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Happy

> Microsoft is about to discover that they are not the boss any more.

Or more accurately, we'll find out exactly how much Samsung want to license other MS tech, like OEM Windows. That would be OEM Windows 8.1...

You're right, MS may not be the boss any more!

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Re: > Microsoft is about to discover that they are not the boss any more.

Considering how many Samsung parts are in those Lumias, Microsoft might think better of a vicious fight.

BTW, there is no profit in consumer Windows desktops and laptops. There hasn't been for years. Threatening to cut off that line of business when it makes no profit is a hollow threat.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: > Microsoft is about to discover that they are not the boss any more.

Different divisions of a huge company. You think they would turn down what could be millions of dollars of business?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: > Microsoft is about to discover that they are not the boss any more.

"Considering how many Samsung parts are in those Lumias, Microsoft might think better of a vicious fight."

Nothing that Microsoft couldn't very easily get manufactured elsewhere!

"there is no profit in consumer Windows desktops and laptops"

Who told you that? The billions in revenue that Microsoft declare from those sectors begs to differ....

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Silver badge

If Samsung has the Balls

to fight MS all the way then they will go a long way towards forgiveness in my eyes (HDD warranty issues).

Every other victim of these patents will be silently wanting them to succeed as well.

However, I can't help think that they will roll over and pay up after some sabre rattling. I would love to be proved wrong.

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Re: If Samsung has the Balls

>>"Every other victim of these patents will be silently wanting them to succeed as well."

Not really. The suit is over non-payment for an agreed contract, it is not about patent validity. Samsung are trying to exploit some loophole based on the MS-Nokia acquisition to get out of the contract, that is all. Other licensors are certainly NOT going to want their biggest Android competitor to be the only one not having to pay licence fees.

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WTF?

Oh, really?

"The chaebol has apparently asked South Korean courts to reduce or eliminate the sums it must make to Microsoft – even though, as Microsoft points out, most of those were granted by countries other than South Korea and they're based on products sold outside South Korea."

So what? If the US courts think that it is OK to pry into databases held in a foreign jurisdiction then surely it must be OK that agreements signed outside South Korea can be nullified by a South Korean court. Or the clauses in the DRIP Act in the UK which purportedly give the UK government rights to interfere with companies of other counties who do business with the UK.

Sauce for the goose etc.

Or would it be better if countries refrained from trying to impose their legal systems on others and instead abide by the bi-lateral and international treaties supposed to govern this sort of situation?

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Re: Oh, really?

I'd move to that planet in a heartbeat.

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Silver badge

I'll get the popcorn

So basically Samsung are objecting to funding the development of a mobile competitor. Who'd of thought.

Let's hope we get our day in court where we can laugh at Microsoft's fantastic patent's in the same way we had fun with Oracle's Java power grab

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Re: I'll get the popcorn

"Who's of thought"

Who'd HAVE thought. There's no verb 'to of'.

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder if Lucy Koh has a little spare time to moonlight in S.Korea?

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Cool with me

I would love to see Samsung bite off Microsoft's balls...

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nematoad: You're missing the point, bad things are only bad when it's NOT the USA doing them; If America kidnaps and tortures someone thats fine, if someone else does it...they are evil. If the USA decides that privacy laws and human rights don't matter then that's fine, as long it it's only 1 way.

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It sounds like Samsung think there was some clause in the deal bars Microsoft from becoming a direct competitor and since buying Nokia that's what they've become.

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Anonymous Coward

Samsung, think? hahaha.

This is Samsung's normal strategy. They seem to always lose their legal battles (take a look OUTSIDE the computer/phone areas of business for details), but it is generally good business for them.

Samsung, are one of the great serial offenders of the global corporate world, and many executives of this "fine" corporation have spent time at the big house because of it. Samsung have also swallowed billions in fines (and I am not talking about Samsung v. Apple) for their illegal behaviours.

Samsung are big, very big, and when they see a competitive advantage in breaching a contract, or simply breaking the law outright (collude, lie, cheat and steal), they do so without compunction. The history of Samsung of the past decades is littered with examples of this type of behaviour.

I am on MSs side here and Samsung will likely get slapped down for breach of contract. Having entered into the agreement with MS, and having paid every year, they will need to demonstrate some very clear evidence of breach on MS's part to convince the court that their own breach of contract is justified. I rate their chances just above zero.

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Re: Samsung, think? hahaha.

"Samsung are big, very big, and when they see a competitive advantage in breaching a contract, or simply breaking the law outright (collude, lie, cheat and steal), they do so without compunction. The history of Samsung of the past decades is littered with examples of this type of behaviour."

And this is different to Microsoft's "Extend, Embrace, Extinguish" philosophy how?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Samsung, think? hahaha.

Samsung are considerably worse, difficult as that may be for most in here to conceptualise.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Samsung, think? hahaha.

One of many examples

http://www.justice.gov/atr/public/press_releases/2006/215199.htm

There are others, the LCD cartel springs to mind, though I think the execs narrowly avoided porridge.

The complaint is here.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCYQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ag.ny.gov%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fpress-releases%2Farchived%2FLCD%2520Complaint.pdf&ei=IG_fU-zCC7TX4QSml4GgAQ&usg=AFQjCNEap_xFF5x-MYzLlWeEBKaNEgHL8g&sig2=QZhOELTxmbTHQt6ujU22jw&bvm=bv.72197243,d.bGE&cad=rja

Notice that Samsung was not one of the parties that had already plead guilty on this. As usual, Samsung decided to play it to the end (as they always do), despite knowing full well that were as guilty as sin.

The list goes on and on and goes back decades.

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Silver badge
Happy

Never mind...

Hopefully Samsung will get their Tizen project off the ground and free themselves of both Google and Microsoft into the bargain - plus more choice for the end customers... everyone's a winner!

... except, of course, the two wannabe monopolists...

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@ RyokuMas

>>free themselves of both Google and Microsoft into the bargain

Is Google suing Samsung as well? Why then do they have to "free" themselves of Google? BTW, they don't need Google for Android that much, it's mostly free, have you heard about Amazon?

Agree with you fully though in case of Tizen that should finally be up and running!

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Re: @ RyokuMas

>>"Is Google suing Samsung as well? Why then do they have to "free" themselves of Google"

Google keep Android tightly under their control through a variety of soft controls. Essentially, Samsung are not free to change it how they want or deploy it with the store that they want without sacrificing some significant hostages that Google holds. There's a good article here: Ars Technica. Google have, imo, done more to subvert Open Source than Microsoft ever managed to.

If Samsung can get Tizen into the mainstream (and I hope they do because competition is good and it will be good for the Open Source movement on mobile not to be dominated by one large corporation), then they will have a lot more freedom - we'll see competing stores, not just Google play and Samsung will be free to put their own apps on equal selling base with Google's.

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@h4rmony

>>Google keep Android tightly under their control through a variety of soft controls.

Every developers has some sort of a control over a project, just GNU, Apache foundation or Mozilla have over theirs. Just answer this question, please: can Samsung follow many other companies big and small to "free" themselves from Google and either completely fork Android off the available source code ( mostly maintained by Google), join Replicant, or join Cyanogenmod, or pact with Amazon, B&N or follow the millions of Chinese OEMs? Earlier they could have even gotten together with MS and their (now defunct) Android project.

Now please tell me, what similar options do Samsung have regarding Windows 8 or WP8? Which source would they be able to use? How can they contribute to it (other than a few device drivers)? Can they fork it or join forces with some other company who've successfully done it before?

>> sacrificing some significant hostages that Google holds

And what would these significant hostages be? Let me guess that the hostages would be a few Google logos and trademarks or the participation in the Open Handset Alliance?

>>Google have, imo, done more to subvert Open Source than Microsoft ever managed to.

Imho, this is one of the most untrue, unsubstantiated and disingenuous statements ever made about Open Source, Microsoft and Google when used together in one sentence!

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Silver badge

Re: @h4rmony

>>Every developers has some sort of a control over a project, just GNU, Apache foundation or Mozilla have over theirs

I can take GNU/Linux, Apache or Mozilla Firefox right now and create my own fork of it and I will still have all the functionality of the original and full access to the ecosystem. I don't have to join some Apache Alliance with a whole bunch of terms (including not forking the code base) in order to not be shut out. Acer tried to create a fork of Android and got told by Google to stop it. I cannot see that happening with any of the old school Open Source projects. Google has repeatedly turned existing key apps of Android into abandonware as soon as they are able, replacing them with Closed Source versions. Even the keyboard has been taken in-house. There's a good reason the only big Western commercial alternative Android line (Amazon's newer Kindle devices) come from someone not using it as a phone. Seriously, I linked to a very detailed article on all this. That is a good place to start.

>>Just answer this question, please: can Samsung follow many other companies big and small to "free" themselves from Google and either completely fork Android off the available source code ( mostly maintained by Google), join Replicant, or join Cyanogenmod, or pact with Amazon, B&N or follow the millions of Chinese OEMs

At great cost, they can, which is why I wrote "soft controls". Google cannot lock down Android completely (though they've closed sourced large parts of the userspace), but they've been able to create sticks with which to beat those that try. As I referenced, Acer tried to fork, as you suggest is possible, and was stopped by Google promising to shut them out of the ecosystem hard, and Amazon can pull it off because their Kindle devices are not phones. Samsung is the only one that currently has a shot of making a viable phone-based fork of Android because they have the resource to re-invent the whole ecosystem if need be.

Also, there aren't "millions" of Chinese OEMs selling forked Android. There's a handful who do so because a number of Google services are banned over there.

>>"Now please tell me, what similar options do Samsung have regarding Windows 8 or WP8"

I wasn't talking about Windows, I was talking about Android. I don't see the relevance unless you're trying to argue that if Microsoft do something it's okay for other companies to do it. I would respond by saying if Microsoft is your benchmark for ethical behaviour, you need to up your standards.

>>"And what would these significant hostages be? Let me guess that the hostages would be a few Google logos and trademarks or the participation in the Open Handset Alliance?"

If you agree to be part of the Open Handset Alliance you sign away your rights to fork the code, use alternate stores and a number of other things. If you refuse to join, you get kicked out of the ecosystem, Google services and in some cases blocked from developing apps that would compete with Google's own. There was a company called Skyhook which developed a location service which meant Google wouldn't be able to harvest user location data from those that used it. Google declared it "incompatible" and forced a choice - forgo much of the established ecosystem or don't use Skyhook. It's very much use of market dominance to exclude competition.

>>>>Google have, imo, done more to subvert Open Source than Microsoft ever managed to.

>>Imho, this is one of the most untrue, unsubstantiated and disingenuous statements ever made about Open Source, Microsoft and Google when used together in one sentence!

Well that may be your "humble opinion" but I back up what I said with a lot of good reasons. Microsoft fought Open Source for years and what did they ever achieve? They managed to make a few companies a bit wary of it with the SCO debacle which did more harm to Microsoft's reputation than GNU/Linux's, and they managed to persuade the occasional local government authority to stick with them when those authorities mostly just wanted to use GNU/Linux and Open Office as a threat to force bigger discounts anyway. Open Source has had far greater effect on Microsoft (open file formats, TypeScript, standards contributions, better security models) than MS have ever really managed to have on Libre Software. Now compare that with what Google managed in a few short years - they've managed to subvert Open Source into something companies cannot fork without great cost to themselves, replace core parts of the ecosphere with closed source software and lock out OEMs from providing their own software stores / sources. They've turned what should be one of the great flowering periods of Open Source into something on a leash. And they've managed to do so whilst being cheered on by people stuck in the Nineties who can't get their heads around anything other than Microsoft being the big threat.

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Read this article

http://company.nokia.com/en/news/press-releases/2013/11/04/samsung-extends-the-patent-license-agreement-between-nokia-and-samsung-for-five-years-companies-will-enter-into-binding-arbitration-to-settle-the-amount-of-additional-compensation

Correction,Yes Samsung owed Microsoft big time even more than their agreement

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Anonymous Coward

@Chulang

So, business as usual for Samsung

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Anonymous Coward

Nokia own the Nokia phone patents.. NOT Microsoft

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MS v Samsung

Law - Samsung agreed a deal, now they have changed their mind. They are in the wrong, they should have asked if they can renegotiate the terms.

Biased comment - If Samsung didn't want to pay, they should have put windows phone on, its free now! And before someone says 'ms is forcing the market by making people pay the price of Google's infringement' this is one of the basic principles of economics, they can sell their stuff for what ever price they like even if that's free. Samsung's position in the phone market is undeserved, had an S3 when it was the latest thing and regretted it after 3 months, my boss had a similar experience of the S4. 6 months in with my Nokia/MS phone and I am already sure I am going to have another one when my contract is up.

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