Google Inc. and Apple Inc. have decided to drop all lawsuits between them, ending the years-long legal battles over smartphone and device patents. There is no patent licensing agreement between the brands as part of the deal, but the two companies have also developed a truce in an effort to work together in “some areas of patent reform,” according to representatives.
The conflict stems from the time of Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility in 2012 for $12.5 billion, as Google sought to obtain Motorola’s portfolio of thousands of patents. Motorola had been in a legal battle already over its Android mobile operating system after intellectual property claims by Apple, Microsoft Corp., and several others.
This year, Google agreed to sell Motorola’s devices to Lenovo Group Ltd., based in China, for $2.9 billion. However, Google has retained all of Motorola’s patents.
Previously, Apple and Google were fighting about 20 lawsuits against one another in the United States and Germany. The two companies have disputed increasingly during the past few years over Android and iOS features such as maps, voice-based search, streaming video services, and Web browsers on each company’s smartphones and tablets.
Samsung Electronics Co., which manufactures many of Google’s Android devices, is not affected by the truce and is still subject to patent infringement cases. Last month, Apple was awarded $119 million in damages for Samsung’s infringement on three of their software patents, an amount far less than Apple wanted in damages.
Lawsuits concerning software and technology often revolve around a company’s patents and intellectual property, which can bring with them a variety of legal issues.
“A patent portfolio can act as a shield against infringement charges, even in unrelated technology, because competitors do not want to risk a counter-suit – at the very least, a healthy patent portfolio may make an aggrieved party more likely to pause and seek a settlement before immediately filing a suit against an alleged infringer,” says Ben Klosowski, experienced patent attorney and litigator at Thrive-IP. “A patent portfolio clears the playing field of competitors better than simply trying to out-market competitors.”
In general, Apple hasn’t sued Google directly, but they have sued the companies that make Google’s Android devices, such as Samsung. Apple may have backed down due to Google’s recent deal with Lenovo.
However, Google is facing litigation from the Rockstar Consortium, a company partially owned by Apple along with Microsoft, Blackberry Ltd., Ericsson Inc. and Sony Corp. Rockstar began several lawsuits last November against Google and several Android device manufacturers.