Android partners strengthen ties with new patent agreement
Samsung has signed a global patent cross-licensing agreement with Google in a move that strengthens the ties between the two companies, while it has also settled an ongoing patent dispute with Swedish telecommunications equipment maker Ericsson.
The Korean smartphone manufacturer, which has been embroiled in a number of patent lawsuits worldwide, most notably with Apple, said the agreement with Google will cover patents currently owned by both companies, as well as any filed in the next ten years.
The new partners said the deal “would lead to deeper collaboration on research and development of current and future projects”, however specific details on what major technologies the agreement covers, as well as the financial terms of the deal, were not disclosed.
Uniting the giants
“We’re pleased to enter into a cross-license with our partner Samsung,” said Allen Lo, deputy general counsel for patents at Google. “By working together on agreements like this, companies can reduce the potential for litigation and focus instead on innovation.”
The move is ideal from Google’s perspective, as it strengthens ties with the largest manufacturer of devices running its Android operating system. Alongside the strong consumer appeal from its Galaxy smartphones, Samsung was recently also recently acclaimed as the world’s largest enterprise smartphone vendor by ABI Research, showing the strength of its position in both markets.
“This agreement with Google is highly significant for the technology industry,” said Seungho Ahn, of Samsung’s Intellectual Property Centre. “Samsung and Google are showing the rest of the industry that there is more to gain from cooperating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes.”
Samsung is looking for some further legal clout in the upcoming months as the company’s much-anticipated showdown with Apple draws ever closer. The CEOs of the two companies have agreed to attend a mediation session to be held on or before 19 February ahead of a court meeting in March, where a US court will rule on claims from Apple that Samsung infringed patents on some of its devices.
Google is also facing several high-profile legal battles, most notably with Apple through its Motorola Mobility unit, which owns a large patent collection. The company is also facing opposition from Rockstar, a consortium made up of some of the biggest names in mobile technology, including Apple, Microsoft and RIM, originating from rival bids for over 6,000 Nortel patents last year.
Samsung has also announced that it had ended a long-running patent dispute with Ericsson. The Swedish firm had previously sued Samsung in 2012, claiming it had infringed on some of its networking patents, but the two companies have now signed a cross-licensing deal to end this dispute.
The agreement consists of an initial lump payment as well as royalty payments from Samsung for the term of the multi-year license agreement. Ericsson said the settlement would lift fourth-quarter sales by 4.2 billion Swedish crowns (£395 million) and net income by 3.3 billion Swedish crowns (£310 million).
“This agreement allows us to continue to focus on bringing new technology to the global market and provides an incentive to other innovators to share their own ideas,” said Kasim Alfalahi, Ericsson’s Chief Intellectual Property Officer.
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