Korea Times (via Fortune) is reporting that Apple and Samsung are in talks designed to settle all future patent disputes out of court. FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller believes that a settlement will be reached “very soon.”
“Things should come to an end during the summer. Apple doesn’t have an endgame strategy. Its agreement with Google shows that its management is looking for a face-saving exit strategy from Steve Jobs’ thermonuclear ambitions,” Mueller said …
Mueller believes that a one-time payment from Samsung to Apple for all past infringements will allow both companies to move on, establishing a cease-fire agreement which would commit both parties to staying out of court for a set timeframe.
Settling with Samsung is something I suggested in a recent opinion piece. While Apple received close to a billion dollars from its first court battle with Samsung (later adjusted to $930M), the more recent award of just $119M may have influenced the company’s cost-benefit analysis of future litigation.
In addition to the doubtless massive legal costs involved, Apple also has to consider the distraction of prepping senior execs for trial and the embarrassment factor of emails and other materials that become public in the course of such cases.
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. In a statement, the two companies said that this agreement does not include the ability cross license each other’s patents, but rather the promise to “work together in some areas of patent reform.”
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.
Apple did not violate a push notifications patent held by the Google-owned Motorola Mobility according to a ruling posted today by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
The International Trade Commission previously determined that Apple’s iPhone design did not violate a patent held by Motorola prompting the Google-owned company to appeal the decision, but today Apple was once again ruled clear of any patent violations.
The thermonuclear patent war may have a silver lining under its mushroom cloud thanks to some recent talks between Apple and Google’s Motorola Mobility. It appears the two companies are seriously considering putting and end to their global patent disputes via arbitration.
According to a report by Bloomberg, the two companies have been exchanging proposals on using binding arbitration to reach a licensing agreement over Motorola’s standards-essential patents. Despite the numerous claims Apple has asserted against Motorola, alleging misuse and an unreasonable demand for royalties, Apple has had very little success with the courts.
Motorola Mobility was first to suggest arbitration but Apple didn’t become privy to the idea until a federal judge in Madison, Wisconsin, threw out a breach-of-contract case that Apple had filed. Why would Motorola Mobility consider arbitration when they were doing just fine with the courts? To put an end to all the litigation of course (and maybe to get the FTC off their back).
“We have long sought a path to resolving patent issues and we welcome the chance to build on the constructive dialogue between our companies,” Google General Counsel Kent Walker said in a Nov. 13 letter to Apple that was filed with the court. “While we prefer to seek a framework for a global (rather than piecemeal) resolution that addresses all of our patent disputes, we are committed to reaching agreement on a license for our respective standard-essential patents.”
So the real question is: “Will Apple be willing to put their nukes back in the silos?” It appears so:
“Apple is also interested in resolving its dispute with Motorola completely and agrees that arbitration may be the best vehicle to resolve the parties’ dispute,” Apple said in the filing.
Rumors of an Apple truce began to circulate soon after Apple and HTC agreed to their own 10-year licensing agreement. That gesture of resolve led many to believe Apple was changing its nuclear mentality in favor of a more diplomatic solution. I’d say it’s sure looking that way.
Thankfully, it’s been some time since I’ve written about an Apple patent lawsuit, however, that doesn’t mean they’ve magically disappeared. The latest in Apple’s crusade against Google (via Motorola Mobility), leads us to a U.S. District Court in Madison, Wisconsin. Apple was slated to go up against Motorola Mobility with allegations of unfair licensing practices, however, Judge Barbara Crabb has dismissed Apple’s lawsuit with prejudice — meaning the case is over at the trial court level.
“We’re pleased that the court has dismissed Apple’s lawsuit with prejudice,” a Google spokeswoman said in an emailed statement on Monday.
Apple still has the opportunity to appeal, and since they’ve been reluctant to pay Motorola anything above $1 per iPhone to license the patents, it’s highly likely they will (appeal, that is).
Google remains interested in reaching an agreement with Apple over the licensing, however, has no plans to bow to Apple’s lowball figure and still stands by Motorola’s offers.
“Motorola has long offered licensing to our extensive patent portfolio at a reasonable and non-discriminatory rate in line with industry standards.”
Since it’s obvious neither party sees eye to eye on the issue and refuses to compromise, we’re guessing the lawsuits will continue.
On a positive note, it would appear that the judges are becoming encumbered with these shenanigans and slowly losing their patience. We’re starting to see more dismissals and that’s certainly a good thing.
Reuters reported today that Congress is set to discuss whether or not companies that hold patents considered essential to an industry standard, “such as a digital movie format”, should be allowed to request bans on infringing devices. A hearing will take place this Wednesday with the Senate Judiciary Committee and FTC officials are expected to testify:
“If they (smartphone makers) had taken the conservatively $15 to $20 billion dollars they’ve spent on this fight, imagine how much better a place the world would be,” said Lemley.
Update: A report fromBloomberg Businessweek confirmed and provided some clarification. As we reported in April, the ITC will have to review Judge Pender’s previous ruling that Apple infringed on one Motorola patent related to industry standard 3G and wireless technologies. The date for that hearing is now scheduled for August 24 and could result on a block of iOS devices from Asia to the US:
The U.S. International Trade Commission said it will review ITC Judge Thomas Pender’s findings that Apple was violating one of four Motorola Mobility patents. The commission is scheduled to issue a final decision on Aug. 24, and has the power to block devices made in Asia from entering the U.S.
According to several tweets from financial analyst @zerohedge, Google is apparently attempting to block shipments of the iPhone and iPad in the U.S. related to 3G patents. We don’t have any more information at the moment, but we’ll keep you updated as the story unfolds…
GOOGLE CLAIMS APPLE INFRINGES PATENT RELATED TO 3G TECHNOLOGY