Apple and Google agreed a truce in their ongoing patent battles, but the settlement leaves open a number of questions about the companies’ position in the intellectual property stakes.
The two have been involved in a number of cases worldwide, focusing on Google’s Motorola Mobility smartphone arm.
According to a statement on Friday, the pair have “agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies.” They will also “work together in some areas of patent reform”.
However, it was the next statement that raised the most eyebrows: “The agreement does not include a cross licence.”
This seems to imply that rather than seeing the value in the other company’s intellectual property holdings, instead neither feels strongly enough about their hands to try and push ahead with legal actions – which are costly for both parties, win or lose.
There are also still issues for vendors who uses Google’s Android platform, and are facing legal action from Apple. The current situation seems to imply that Google will not be using its intellectual property to protect Android, leaving hardware vendors out on their own.
Indeed, the bigger battle is between Apple and Samsung, where there are still a number of cases active. This dispute has seen trials and retrials, with few decisive blows being landed.
With Google in the process of selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo, it also becomes more difficult for Apple to press ahead with damages. It is unclear how much money the search giant makes from Android, whereas it is easier to see how much a company makes from selling smartphones.
Indeed, with Motorola Mobility having such a small presence in the international market now, it hardly seems a worthwhile target for Apple, except as a proxy for a run-in with Google.
Specialist website FOSS Patents mooted that if it was the sale of Motorola to Lenovo that led Apple to drop its action, then Apple “may still have unrealistic expectations with respect to the terms of a settlement with Samsung”.
The existing actions have been dismissed “without prejudice”, and could theoretically be reinstated at any time. Each party will bear its own costs and legal fees.