Earlier this week Google entered into a patent cross-licensing deal with Cisco and just before that Google and Samsung entered into a 10 year cross licensing patent agreement. Now to complete the group Cisco has entered into a patent cross-license agreement with Samsung, effective immediately.
Under the agreement Cisco and Samsung gain access to each other’s existing patent portfolios as well as those filed over the next 10 years.
Google, Samsung and Cisco see these patent agreements as a way to reduce the risks of potential litigation and allow them to instead put “focus on innovation for future products and services.” That is partly true, but the real reason is money and brand damage limitation. It costs lots of money to start and/or defend against litigation and the ramifications cause a negative view of the brand names involved. It is therefore cheaper to enter license agreements and sell more devices knowing that you aren’t going to get sued.
Innovation is stifled all too often in today's overly-litigious environment
Dan Lang, Cisco’s Vice President of Intellectual Property, has it about right. “Innovation is stifled all too often in today’s overly-litigious environment,” he said. “By cross-licensing our patent portfolios, Cisco and Samsung are taking important steps to reverse the trend and advance innovation and freedom of operation.” He said basically the same thing when Cisco signed its deal with Google.
The bottom line is that in the end all these big companies need to realize that it is better to play nice rather than to play nasty – kind of like life in general. Dr. Seungho Ahn, the Head of Samsung’s Intellectual Property Center, put it like this, “Samsung and Google are showing the rest of the industry that there is more to gain from cooperating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes.”
Now what needs to happen is for Apple to sign an agreement with Google and Samsung and then we can all start buying devices based on their actual merits, that way the market will decides who wins not a lawyer!
What is your take on all this? Google, Cisco and Samsung are now all best friends, could this strategy help dramatically reduce the ‘patent wars’? Let us know what you think in the comments below.