updated 05:23 am EST, Mon January 27, 2014
Deal gives each side access to patents, lessens legal threat
Google and Samsung have signed a global patent cross-licensing agreement, which effectively prevents the two companies from accusing each other of patent infringement. The broad, long-term agreement will cover patents of both Samsung and Google, including not only existing patents, but also patents filed by either company over the next ten years.
It is not clear how long the agreement will last for, aside from the ten-year portion. The number of patents covered is also unknown, as neither side has revealed what sections of each respective patent portfolio are included, if not all patents. It does however allow Samsung and Google access to each other's patents in a "broad range of technologies and business areas," which potentially includes the Motorola portfolio Google acquired in its $12.5 billion purchase in 2012.
Samsung Galaxy S4
"We're pleased to enter into a cross-license with our partner Samsung. By working together on agreements like this, companies can reduce the potential for litigation and focus instead on innovation," said the deputy general counsel for patents at Google, Allen Lo. Dr. Seungho Ahn, head of Samsung's Intellectual Property Center, agreed with the sentiment, calling it "highly significant for the technology industry," and that the two companies "are showing the rest of the industry that there is more to gain from cooperating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes."
Though the patent licensing agreement has the main advantage of preventing patent lawsuits between the two, as well as strengthening each company's position in any future legal disputes, it does offer a secondary benefit to Google. By offering the mobile technology patents to Samsung, Google is effectively giving Samsung more of a reason to work on Android-based devices in the future, rather than to perform any major work on other mobile operating systems, such as Tizen or Windows Phone.