Apple and Google End Patent Battle, Agree to Work on Reform

Apple and Google have agreed to drop all lawsuits between the two tech giants. According to a joint statement, there is no cross-licensing agreement as part of the truce, but the companies would work in “some areas of patent reform.” The announcement effectively ends about 20 lawsuits and covers Apple’s patent litigation with Google’s Motorola unit, which started four years ago and Google later inherited when it purchased Motorola Mobility. However, the deal does not affect Apple’s patent litigation against Samsung.

“Google inherited the suits when it bought Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in 2012 in part to obtain Motorola’s portfolio of thousands of patents, which it used to defend its Android mobile-operating system from intellectual-property claims by Apple, Microsoft Corp. and others,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Google earlier this year agreed to sell Motorola’s devices unit to Chinese computer maker Lenovo Group Ltd. for $2.9 billion, though it would keep Motorola’s patents.”

“Once allies, Apple and Google are butting heads more frequently, eying the same acquisition targets and top engineering talent as each company’s business in areas such as maps, voice-based search, streaming video devices and Web browsers bleeds into the other’s.”

Today’s smartphone software is largely divided between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Because Samsung is the biggest maker of Android phones, Google is regularly mentioned in the ongoing patent battles between Apple and Samsung. But while Apple has sued phone makers that use Android, the company has yet to go on the offensive against Google directly.

“Google may have been encouraged to settle with Apple after regulators in the U.S. and Europe criticized the company for the legal strategy it employed with Motorola’s patents. Motorola had pursued injunctions against Apple products based on patents that regulators said it was required to license to Apple,” notes WSJ. “Apple’s incentive to keep fighting the Motorola suit may have been diminished by the pending sale to Lenovo.”