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There's no telling where these talks stand, though, or whether Android phonemakers will buy the proposal

Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) legal war with the "Big Three" of the Android world -- HTC Corp. (TPE:2498), Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930), and Google Inc.'s (GOOG) nearly-acquired subsidiary-to-be Motorola Mobility -- has taken on legendary status as worldwide courts have been swept up in a torrent of suits and countersuits [1][2][3][4] [5][6][7][8] [9][10][11].

The gadget-makers' open war has drawn international scrutiny, particularly when contrast to Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) who has largely thrived and profited off a softer approach of offering licensing [1][2][3][4].  Apple claimed to have once offered Samsung such a deal, but it had made no efforts of late to license -- until now.

The official NASDAQ Newswires service is reporting that Apple is in deep talks with Android's big three, looking to settle the lawsuits for a per-device payment of between $5 and $15 USD -- between 1 and 2.5 percent of the devices' purchase price.  That's on-par with the licensing rates Microsoft has demanded.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Apple has reportedly offered to allow Android smartphone and tabletmakers to pay a fee of between $5 and $15 per device to avoid infringement lawsuits.
[Images Source: 9to5Google]

Is it possible that Apple has turned its back on the demands of its late co-founder and CEO Steven P. Jobs, who promised to "spend every penny" of Apple's fortune in destroying Android in court?

Mr. Jobs stated in his authorized autobiography:

I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs successors seem to be losing the stomach for the self-destructive war against Android he set in motion. [Image Source: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images]

But following the shut-down of portions of Apple's iCloud service in Germany thanks to Motorola's push-email lawsuit Apple's new leadership may be growing wary of the high cost in attrition that Mr. Jobs' conflict with Apple has wrought. The Motorola decision represents a serious threat to Apple for a couple reasons.  

First, it represents a new breed of Android legal attack on Apple.  Where as past Android lawsuits from Samsung and Motorola have largely relied on wireless standards patents, raising questions about abuse given the patents' "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory" (FRAND) licensing requirements, the Motorola suit relied on non-FRAND IP and thus is thought to be much stronger.  With Google, Motorola Mobility, Samsung, and HTC "following in Apple's line" in picking up the pace with patenting seemingly trivial software embellishments and features, the odds of Apple being forced to drop more features in the future seems increasingly likely.

Second, Apple relies on image – much more than Android phonemakers, in general.  It would be a public relations nightmare for the gadget maker if it had to take services like the iCloud offline or had to remove features from its devices.

There's no telling whether HTC, Motorola, or Samsung will accept the detail -- or even how serious Apple is about pushing for licensing.  But if indeed brokers a truce, this would be a win for consumers, as Android phonemakers would escape without too severe financial repercussions, while Apple would gain the extra cash it needs to stay competitive in a global market dominated by Android's much more diverse selection of devices.

At the end of the day consumers want choice, and product bans are antithetic to that end.

Source: NASDAQ Newswires



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RE: i think i speak for a lot
By Gondor on 3/8/2012 7:12:13 AM , Rating: 3
This can be done more subtly ... Google should make a counter offer, accepting Apple's proposal while charging exactly the same amount for Apple's use of soon-to-be-acquired Motorola Mobile patents. That, or just hard press them with their opwn portfolio.


RE: i think i speak for a lot
By wordsworm on 3/8/2012 10:26:18 AM , Rating: 2
It's not Google who would pay for the per-set usage unless they start selling smart phones through their Motorola brand. It's the companies who put Android on their phones that are being targeted.


By Cheesew1z69 on 3/8/2012 10:40:11 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
unless they start selling smart phones through their Motorola brand
Um, Motorola already sells smartphones...


RE: i think i speak for a lot
By Solandri on 3/8/2012 2:13:02 PM , Rating: 3
No, it's the same reasoning Apple used to dodge Motorola's patents. Motorola licensed them to Qualcomm, and the parts of the iPhone which used the patents were Qualcomm parts. So the fact that Qualcomm had licensed the patents indemnified Apple from Motorola's patent claims.

Same thing would happen if Google entered a licensing deal with Apple for Android. That fact that Google had licensed it would indemnify any companies which used Android on their phones.

The bigger issue here is that Apple's patents are (IMHO) pretty weak. They're UI and usage patents, mostly obvious stuff that nobody else patented because it was so obvious they figured they'd never be granted (e.g. green phone icon to make a call (Motorola had this first in the 1990s but never patented it), Android's pull-down notification bar which Apple "borrowed" for iOS). The patents Motorola et al are wielding are hardcore technology patents. Stuff that makes wireless communications work.

When rumors about the iPhone first surfaced, many people were skeptical because Apple didn't have any mobile communications patents. They thought that would force Apple to license them and prohibitively raise the cost of the iPhone. Essentially, Google settling with Apple would amount to trading off access to hardcore technology patents for access to (weak and obvious to most people) UI patents. That would be a huge win for Apple.


By Tony Swash on 3/8/2012 7:13:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Same thing would happen if Google entered a licensing deal with Apple for Android. That fact that Google had licensed it would indemnify any companies which used Android on their phones.


I am not sure that is true unless Google actively decides to take that position as previously, to the best of my knowledge, Google's Android licences specifically do not indemnify any Android OEM or licensee.


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