Print 23 comment(s) - last by retrospooty.. on May 18 at 8:24 AM

Two companies pledge to work together to push patent reform

In perhaps an olive branch between the world's two largest smartphone operating system makers -- Google Inc. (GOOG) and Apple, Inc. (AAPL) -- an announcement was made today to Reuters that all of the suits and countersuits between the companies would be dropped.

First let's clarify -- this settlement does not cover Android phonemaker Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935), who recently fought Apple to an effective stalemate in a jury trial.  That said, the settlement raises hope that a settlement between the world's two largest phonemakers (Samsung and Apple, respectively) might not be far off.

What was dropped in this case were the series of suits regarding Motorola Mobility, which recently became the wholly owned subsidiary of Lenovo Group Ltd. (HKG:0992).

Motorola Atrix 4G vs. iPhone 4
After years of battling to a standstill in international courts, Google and Apple have finally agreed to settle their messy legal brawl. [Image Source: Phone Arena]

Motorola Mobility launched a preemptive strike in Oct. 2010, suing Apple, who at the time had sued Samsung and HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) -- two other major Android phonemakers.  Apple fired back with a lawsuit of its own, and expanded the battle across numerous internationals jurisdictions.
Judges acknowledged early in the U.S. hearings on these cases that it was probable that Motorola smartphones infringed on some feature cover by Apple's software patents.  At the same time, they expressed frustration that Apple refused to license those patents, instead trying to exclude its rival from the marketplace.  And they also expressed frustration that Apple refused to pay Motorola Mobility royalties for its standards patents.
Rather than ban both companies' product lines, frustrated judges have simply suggested the pair solve their quibbles between themselves throwing the case out of court three times.
Judge Richard A. Posner, a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge who moonlighted in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago) chastised the pair's behavior in June 2012, commenting, "Both parties have deep pockets.  And neither has acknowledged that damages for the infringement of its patents could not be estimated with tolerable certainty."
At the same time the case -- like others between Android and Apple -- has grown expensive and embarrassing for both companies.  Apple currently leans heavily on Google to provide a variety of iOS software, including its mapping utilities, which are still popular among iPhone users, even with the introduction of Apple's own in-house Maps product.

Google Maps on the iPhone
Apple users rely on Google for a variety of software products and internet services, including Google Maps. [Image Source: Getty Images]

In the end, recognizing the damage to both companies that was being inflicted by the "thermonuclear war" against Android -- triggered by late company co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs -- Apple offered to shut it down, and Google agreed.
The deal does not include cross-licensing.  Reuters reports:

Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies. Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform. The agreement does not include a cross license.

The deal does, however, include a plan to cooperate on efforts to beat back so-called patent trolls, such as Intellectual Ventures (IV).  IV has targeted Google and its allies with a variety of lawsuits.  And most recently both Apple and Google have both been sued by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) cofounder and billionaire Paul Allen.
In the end there's a lot of reasons for Apple and its Android rivals to make peace.  And it fortunately looks like things are finally entering that phase.

Sources: Scribd [joint statement], Reuters

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I almost can't believe it
By retrospooty on 5/17/2014 3:13:51 AM , Rating: 3
But it's good to hear. Hopefully the era of ridiculous lawsuits is coming to an end. Just make products and the money will come.

RE: I almost can't believe it
By Reclaimer77 on 5/17/2014 9:26:37 AM , Rating: 4
I guess it's a coincidence this is only happening now that it's clear Apple won't be winning billions and billions of dollars over silly things.

RE: I almost can't believe it
By retrospooty on 5/17/2014 11:53:38 AM , Rating: 2
Possibly... But at least its a good thing.

RE: I almost can't believe it
By BigDady on 5/17/2014 10:55:03 AM , Rating: 2
AMEN. Next up peace in the middle east. Seriously this is good for the consumer.

RE: I almost can't believe it
By ritualm on 5/17/2014 2:14:48 PM , Rating: 5
Peace in the Mideast is more mythical than Loch Ness.

RE: I almost can't believe it
By retrospooty on 5/17/2014 4:04:53 PM , Rating: 2
"Next up peace in the middle east"

LOL... But that will never happen. The middle east has been in a state of near perpetual turmoil as far back as recorded history goes... Which is of course in modern day Iraq. The best thing to do with it is just stay the hell out of it.

RE: I almost can't believe it
By stm1185 on 5/17/2014 11:01:50 PM , Rating: 2
We can have peace in the middle east tomorrow. We have the technology to achieve it; just not the will.

By joshuasims1981 on 5/18/2014 2:44:37 AM , Rating: 2
Peace of the Grave doesn't count!

Tech Patents Need Peer Reviews
By FreonP on 5/17/2014 5:29:11 AM , Rating: 2
As I understand it, most other advanced countries make patent applications undergo a peer review before they are approved. Any "patent reform" in the US desperately needs to include peer review for patents in the tech arena. Patent office workers aren't qualified to decide what is a true innovation and what is a design choice that any competent engineer would think of. That fact results in designs that aren't true innovations being patented by large companies that have the legal and monetary resources necessary to deter competitors from challenging those patents in court.

RE: Tech Patents Need Peer Reviews
By w8gaming on 5/17/2014 2:20:15 PM , Rating: 2
Apple probably has given Samsung the brand recognition for free during the past few years though. Due to Apple own product strategy (high margin, not listening to market demand by limiting themselves to small screen etc), even if there has been no Samsung, other companies would have taken the market share from them. The ongoing lawsuit simply had given Samsung free publicity to help them becoming the top Android maker.

It's a TRAP!
By lightfoot on 5/17/2014 10:28:31 AM , Rating: 2
Don't do it Google! It's a trap!

On a more serious note, how can such an agreement even be legal?

You've got two companies that represent roughly 90+% of the mobile market agreeing amongst themselves to only sue their smaller competitors. That stinks of collusion and anti-trust violations.

RE: It's a TRAP!
By ritualm on 5/17/2014 2:13:06 PM , Rating: 2
You've got two companies that represent roughly 90+% of the mobile market agreeing amongst themselves to only sue their smaller competitors. That stinks of collusion and anti-trust violations.

More like 50-70%. Lots of Chinese mobiles use Android in name only, however their ecosystems are completely separate from Google's, and neither Google nor Apple's patents have any effect in China (they're basically unenforceable).

By WldAntc on 5/17/2014 4:28:29 AM , Rating: 2
Apple went to length to make sure the jury kept Google out of the Samsung fight. Insisting Android features programmed by Google made Samsung accountable... cuz they didn't not use them I suppose.

Apple vs HTC: may have mortally wounded (financially) HTC, having their namesake flagship banned just at launch and then extorting heavy licensing fees for the next decade.

I declare peace with the U.S. but i will continue my war with any U.S state that uses their democracy! - Says the Oxymoronic

By Marcos8 on 5/17/2014 5:29:17 AM , Rating: 2
Well if you like that maybe you will enjoy this for.your smartphone boost your Samsung.

Out of context
By ianmills on 5/17/2014 2:25:00 PM , Rating: 2
I'm certainly not a lawyer but it appears this agreement is overblown. Android does not have an indemnity clause, right?

A consequence of this is when a company/user use android they take on full legal responsibility for any patent violation (not google).

Now that android has sold motorola and is supposedly ending the nexus program (possibly for this reason?), Apple doesn't have any reason to sue Google anymore

By Wazza1234 on 5/17/14, Rating: -1
RE: Pre-emptive!
By retrospooty on 5/17/2014 8:44:35 AM , Rating: 2
Actually that is what happened. Apple was gearing up and had let it slip they were preparing their case and going to sue Moto and others long before they actually filed the official legal action. Moto jumped the gun and sued first from a legal timing perspective, but everyone knew Apple was going after their competitors. So yes, it was preemptive.

RE: Pre-emptive!
By xti on 5/17/2014 10:30:22 AM , Rating: 2
proof that news will never be reported unbiased on DT. especially not with the anti-apple, or anti-ms, or anti-google zealots all over the place.

RE: Pre-emptive!
By retrospooty on 5/17/2014 11:48:53 AM , Rating: 2
That isn't "proof" of anything. What happened is exactly what I outlined above. If you weren't aware of it at the time, you simply weren't paying attention. That is what happened. It was all over the web that Apple's legal team was massing a huge batch of lawsuits and they were planning on going after everyone . It was all over the web. The other smartphone vendors all got ready for it. First to file means zero. First strike was Apple and we all know it.

RE: Pre-emptive!
By retrospooty on 5/17/2014 11:51:48 AM , Rating: 2
Derp... I meant to add, it makes no difference. In hte end hte lawsuits mean zero. You will go to the store or web and buy whatever phone you want, as will I.

On top of that, in this specific case, cant we all just be glad they settled? Come on, props to Apple and Moto for that. It's a step in the right direction and we all should be glad. Only Wazza (fka Testerguy) would take this positive news and spew his usual negative bile at a great thing like this.

RE: Pre-emptive!
By bigboxes on 5/18/2014 8:02:09 AM , Rating: 2
Got to protect the rectangular device with rounded corners from IP theft. Rally the troops! Wait they got an ear piece that looks like a horizontal line. Sue! Oh oh. That looks like a volume rocker switch. Call in the suits! Touch front. We can't stand for it! Swipe to answer. Egads! Phone in eggshell white? Heaven forbids! We patented that! Larger scree... wait, we didn't do that first? Crap. Uh, it's a gimmick!

RE: Pre-emptive!
By Wazza1234 on 5/18/14, Rating: -1
RE: Pre-emptive!
By retrospooty on 5/18/2014 8:24:26 AM , Rating: 3
Like I said... Only Wazza (fka Testerguy) would take this positive news and spew his usual negative bile at a great thing like this.

Props to Apple and Moto/Google for settling... As for you and your usual negative drivel, I guess its expected. It's all you've got.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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