Competition or coopetition. Google and Samsung opted to go for the latter and announced Sunday a cross-licensing deal that will cover existing patents and whatever patents both companies will produce in the next 10 years. The two companies are still mum about the details of the arrangement, including any price tag that came with the agreement.
The new deal will save Samsung and Google from the much needed legal ammunition in dealing with different lawsuits that have been hounding them. The legal teams of Samsung and Apple are set to meet on Feb. 19 in the hopes of reaching a settlement. The Galaxy smartphone manufacturer and iPhone maker Apple have been suing and countersuing one another over patent infringements in different countries and are also expected to reach a settlement. Meanwhile, Google is also dealing with a host of privacy issues and antitrust probes.
While Samsung and Google have been collaborating on Android, tension cannot avoided as Google also owns Motorola, a promising smartphone maker. Samsung also has licensing agreements with Nokia and Microsoft.
"This agreement with Google is highly significant for the technology industry. Samsung and Google are showing the rest of the industry that there is more to gain from cooperating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes," said head of the intellectual property center at Samsung, Dr. Seungho Ahn.
Google also welcomed the new development. "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 Google's deputy general counsel for patents, Allen Lo.
Meanwhile, experts say that the Samsung-Google tag team will be formidable against Apple.
"Since Google is also a big U.S. company and has a broad range of high-profile patents and technologies, that will make Apple more cautious about future litigation. It means Samsung has earned a huge ally in the ongoing legal dispute with Apple," said Seoul-based SU Intellectual Property patent lawyer Jung Dong Joon.
On Monday, Samsung also inked a patent licensing deal with Ericsson. The agreement settles patent disputes between the two firms filed at the International Trade Commission and other cases in a district court in Texas.
"We are pleased that we could reach a mutually fair and reasonable agreement with Samsung. We always viewed litigation as a last resort. This agreement allows us to continue to focus on bringing new technology to the global market and provides an incentive to other innovators to share their own ideas," said Ericsson chief intellectual property officer Kasim Alfalahi.