New bond? Apple and Google will work together in "some" areas of patent reform. Photo: iStock
Apple and Google have declared a cease-fire in their intellectual-property wars.
The two Silicon Valley technology giants said they are dropping lawsuits against one another and will work together in some areas of patent reform. The dismissed suits involve patent disputes regarding Google's Motorola Mobility handset unit. The deal doesn't include Apple's ongoing patent battles with Samsung, which uses Google's Android software for mobile devices.
Apple and Motorola Mobility have been fighting over smartphone patents since October 2010, with no victory by either side. Motorola Mobility filed suit first and Apple also started suing other manufacturers claiming phones running on Google's Android were copying features of the iPhone.
"Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies," the two companies said in a statement. "Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform. The agreement does not include a cross licence."
The pact signals a de-escalation in hostilities between two companies that compete fiercely against each other on many technology fronts. Apple's iOS software and Google's Android power the majority of the world's smartphones and tablets and both are seeking to keep their pre-eminent positions in those growing markets. Both are also duelling each other in areas including mobile maps, online music and other products.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had declared a "thermonuclear war" on Google after the company introduced its Android smartphone software in 2008. Jobs had been furious that Google began competing with Apple, sparking a rivalry that led to Eric Schmidt, then chief executive of the web search company, leaving Apple's board of directors.
"It's always in the interest of consumers when cooler heads prevail," said Al Hilwa, an analyst at researcher IDC. "Anything that can make the ecosystem more interoperable and for people to kind of easily move from one ecosystem to another is good for everyone."
Google agreed in January to sell Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $US2.91 billion after buying it for more than $US12 billion in 2012. As part of the deal, Google is keeping the majority of Motorola's patents.
While the agreement settles differences between Apple and Google's Motorola Mobility over basic patents, Apple has been embroiled in litigation against Samsung, the biggest maker of Android smartphones.
In a second trial that ended earlier this month, Apple won $US120 million from Samsung after seeking $US2 billion in damages. The jury also found that Apple infringed one Samsung patent, awarding it $US158,000. The verdict sets the stage for each company to seek a judge's order banning US sales of some older devices found to infringe its patents.