In a joint statement this afternoon, Motorola Mobility, which is still owned by Google, and Apple have asked the federal appeals court in Washington to dismiss open patent lawsuits against each other. This puts an end to disputes that go back as far as 2010, but does not include any cross licensing deals.
The statement continues with a brief note the Google and Apple have agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform moving forward.
We are all familiar with the ongoing battles between Apple and most of the manufacturers of Android powered devices. In this case, Motorola accused Apple of infringing several patents back in 2010. Apple returned fire with several of its own. In 2012, a Chicago court dismissed both based on lack of sufficient evidence on either end. Just last month the appeals court allowed the case to re-open.
The decision to drop the cases against each other does not extend beyond that of Motorola Mobility and its devices. The ever popular Samsung vs. Apple cases shall remain for the courts to endure.
There has been no announcement as to why the companies have decided to jointly dismiss the cases in the courts. Speculation includes ideas like, as the judge in Chicago had figured, there still is not enough evidence to work with, or that the devices and patents for the cases are no longer of consequence to current product sales.
It can not be overlooked that Google is in the final stages of selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo. It is entirely possible that Google has coughed up a couple bucks to appease Apple and make these cases go away. Clearing these lawsuits closes out a major liability that would have been acquired with Motorola Mobility, thus smoothing the way for a clean takeover by new owners Lenovo in the months to come. This may have even been a condition of sale between Google and Lenovo, especially considering the confusion that would come about should Google plan to retain the related Motorola patents in the sale, leaving Motorola no longer in ownership of the patents that it is suing over.
One thing is for certain, we are very pleased to hear that Google and Apple will be working together on some areas of patent reform. We look forward to seeing positive results, producing smarter patents and fewer patent trolls gaming the system in the future.
What do you think, should this be viewed as an alliance between Google and Apple, or is this just a short cease-fire on one small front of the overall patent wars?