Microsoft and Google have reached a mutual agreement to end the patent disputes that the two companies are involved in, with all the pending lawsuits that the companies filed against each other now being dismissed.
The number of dismissed lawsuits totals about 20, with the lawsuits being filed over the previous five years covering a range of technologies including online video, Wi-Fi and smartphones.
The lawsuits are being closely watched by members of the industry not just because of the royalty payments involved that could go as high as billions of dollars, but also because the results of the cases would have a huge impact on patent law.
The details of the settlement between the two companies have not been disclosed. However, Microsoft and Google said that in addition to the settlement, the two companies have made an agreement for collaboration on certain patent-related matters and are anticipating to work together in the future on certain aspects for the benefit of customers.
Neither Microsoft nor Google disclosed further details on the collaboration, which is a welcome development as the two companies end their bitter years-long fight over patents.
One of the most hostile disputes between Microsoft and Google started back in 2010, when Microsoft launched a lawsuit against Motorola that claimed the mobile phone company's Android devices were infringing on patents held by Microsoft. Motorola, in response, launched a countersuit, where it claimed that Microsoft infringed on a total of 16 online video and wireless patents on Microsoft's software for PCs and servers, along with the Xbox and Windows Mobile.
Google acquired Motorola a year later, finding itself in the middle of the dispute feud.
Microsoft, in addition to other major tech companies such as Apple, licenses patents for various products from Google. Some of the patents have been tagged as standard-essential patents, with companies owning such patents legally required to offer them to those that are looking to use them on a FRAND basis, which means fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory. In relation to this, Microsoft also sued Motorola for allegedly making excessive charges for royalties on such patents.
Motorola was demanding $4 billion in royalty payments. However, Microsoft won the case in 2013, when the company was ordered to pay only $1.8 million a year for the royalties. Google helped Motorola in trying to overturn the ruling, but their combined efforts failed.
Google sold Motorola Mobility for $2.9 billion to Lenovo last year, but the legal fight between Microsoft remained because it held on to Motorola's patents.