What you need to know about the Google and Tencent patent agreement

19 Jan 2018

Tencent buildings in Shenzhen, China. Image: NAYUKI/Shutterstock

The deal between Google and Tencent will see the companies collaborate on developing future technologies.

Google and Tencent are to cross-license patents across a wide array of products and technologies in a new deal announced today (19 January).

Although the companies gave few details on the scope or nature of the potential collaborations, in a joint statement they said they “are open to deeper collaboration in the future on innovative new technologies”.

Building better products

Head of patents at Google, Mike Lee, explained the rationale behind the agreement, saying: “By working together on agreements such as this, tech companies can focus on building better products and services for their users.”

Sam Xu, chief of intellectual property at Tencent, said the patent deal would “advance the collaboration between two leading technology companies”.

Google has signed similar agreements in the past with Samsung, Cisco and LG, but the Tencent agreement is the first China-based company to enter into such a deal.

Google moving into the Chinese market?

Although Google’s search engine remains blocked in China, the search giant has been steadily working on other business opportunities in the country, including a Beijing AI lab and a Shenzhen office.

CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, also spoke at a conference last December hosted by the Cyberspace Administration of China, which is the body tasked with overseeing the extensive censorship regulations within the country.

The Google-Tencent agreement essentially means that neither party will take legal action against the other for infringing patents, which both companies say will ramp up global technological development through the elimination of frustrating legal barriers.

Tencent going global

From Tencent’s point of view, the deal is another element of the company’s increasingly global business outlook. The Chinese firm made numerous deals last year, including investments in Snap and Tesla.

This deal could be the start of a powerful and mutually beneficial alliance for both companies, as well as accelerated innovation in areas such as AI, social media, gaming and many more.

While there is still a lot for Google to do to thaw historically frosty relations with China, this is a massive first step.

Tencent buildings in Shenzhen, China. Image: NAYUKI/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects