Samsung last night announced a strategic alliance with Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) that involves a 10-year global patenting agreement with the search giant. This is an important partnership that covers both existing patents and those filed over the next decade. Moreover, the deal could have far-reaching effects on mobile patent disputes, especially those related to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).
It's no secret that Samsung and Apple have been locked in years of litigation over their respective smartphone and tablet technologies. However, this deal will give Samsung and Google a key weapon against their tech rival in ongoing and future patent battles.
Cross-licensing Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and tablets with Google's Android system gives the two mobile tech giants a stronger defense against patent infringement charges. Google's deputy general counsel for patents, Allen Lo, said, "By working together on agreements like this, companies can reduce the potential for litigation and focus instead on innovation," he said in a press release.
After years and billions of dollars spent on patent disputes with Apple, it's refreshing to see Samsung find common ground with at least one tech titan. In a press release, Samsung said it hopes this agreement with Google will open the floodgates for other industry players (hint, hint... Apple) to cooperate with their peers instead of "engaging in unnecessary patent disputes."
However unnecessary as these disputes may be, Samsung is hardly a victim when it comes to patent politics. It was Samsung, not Apple, that was forced to pay more than $1 billion in damages to the other in 2012 after a jury ruled that Samsung had infringed on various patents for Apple's devices. Following the court's verdict that year, Apple had this to say about its adversary:
The lawsuits between Apple and Samsung were about much more than patents or money. They were about values. At Apple, we value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on earth. We make these products to delight our customers, not for our competitors to flagrantly copy. We applaud the court for finding Samsung's behavior willful and for sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn't right.
This was one of the biggest U.S. patent trials in history. However, future patent suits may be avoided, or at least settled out of court, thanks to deals such as Samsung's new agreement with Google. Samsung has also inked similar agreements with other tech and mobile companies including Microsoft and Nokia. For Apple, on the other hand, Samsung's latest 10-year treaty with Google could ultimately make it more difficult for the iPhone maker to challenge those two companies over mobile patent infringements in the future.