According to a court filing discovered by Reuters, Apple and Google’s Motorola Mobility unit have agreed to settle their ongoing smartphone patent litigation battle against each other, and will work together to help push patent reform forward.
According to a source speaking to GigaOm, about 20 lawsuits will go dark.
Here’s the statement:
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 “cross license” bit means that Apple and Google won’t be licensing patents to each other. When HTC and Apple settled their patent disputes a couple of years ago, they agreed to license between each other outside of a court ruling. Neither side is revealing what the “patent reforming” entails, although it won’t be surprising if it involves efforts to curb the patent trolls that they face.
Steve Jobs famously said that he was willing to “go thermonuclear war” on Google for stealing designs from the iPhone and putting them in Android. In an email to Apple employees in 2010, Jobs laid out that one of the company’s key strategies going forward was to wage “Holy War with Google.
Google is still in the process of selling Motorola to Lenovo, but most of Motorola’s patents will stay with Google after Motorola is completely sold off.
The two tech giants have been battling it out over various patents for several years now, both directly and indirectly. It’s important to note, however, that this agreement is solely between Apple, Google, and its Motorola Mobility unit. This does not apply to any lawsuits between Android device manufacturers, such as Samsung and HTC, and Apple. Although theoretically, it would apply to patents owned by Google that device manufacturers are licensing.
A verdict was reached in the latest Apple v Samsung battle just a few weeks ago, with Apple being ruled as the victor, albeit small. The court ruled that Samsung owed Apple $119 million, which is far less than the $2 billion it was seeking.
The companies have not said what prompted this change of heart. However, it comes hot on the heels of an appeals court reviving patent claims from Apple and Motorola that had been dismissed in 2012.
The phone makers faced the prospect of renewing a fight over some relatively old (no longer very valuable and still expensive ) infringement allegations — peace seems to be the more practical option.