Google, Microsoft settle long-running patent feud

1 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google, Microsoft resolve global patent fight over phones, Xbox.

Google and Microsoft, which have been litigating over technology innovations for five years, agreed to drop about 20 patent lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany.The agreement, the terms of which were not disclosed, mean that about 20 different lawsuits in Germany and the United States involving issues as varied as mobile phones, wireless networking, video decoding and other technologies will go away. In a joint statement, the companies said the cases included those related to Motorola Mobility, the smartphone maker that Google sold last year to Lenovo. The companies also said they agreed to “collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers.” Although Microsoft has struggled to compete in the marketplace against smartphones based on Google’s Android operating system, it has struck patent licensing agreements with many of the biggest makers of Android smartphones, including Samsung. (Microsoft settled a lawsuit this year involving a contract with Samsung over patent royalty payments.

Google’s former Motorola Mobility unit had been demanding royalties on the Xbox video-gaming system, and Microsoft had sought to block Motorola mobile phones from using certain features. Today’s tech giants, from Apple to Samsung, are mired in litigation around the world, particularly around Internet connectivity and mobile technologies. That doesn’t mean Microsoft has given up its campaign to collect royalties from Android device makers for the mobile operating system’s alleged infringement of Microsoft patents.

And it’s a historic coup for Microsoft MSFT 1.89% CEO Satya Nadella in particular, whose predecessor, Steve Ballmer, is credited with ending a decade’s worth of antitrust litigation under his controversial watch. (And the company’s new president, Brad Smith, a legal expert who served under both.) Google GOOG 2.26% has also made strides ending potentially paralyzing litigation, such as its patent agreements with Cisco, LG, Samsung, and Verizon in 2014. The agreement marks a new amity between Microsoft and one of its top erstwhile enemies, and reflects a different tone set by Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella.

The case against Motorola involved in part the use of a popular feature called ActiveSync that lets users coordinate the calendars on their phones and desktop computers. Microsoft obtained an order blocking the feature on Motorola phones imported into the U.S. though it later said that U.S. customs officials never enforced it. Google is pushing new products to compete with Microsoft, including a tablet computer designed for business customers to compete with Microsoft’s SurfacePro.

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