Microsoft and Google call truce on 5-year patent lawsuits

1 Oct 2015

After five years of back and forth in US courts, Microsoft and Google have agreed to call a truce in their patent lawsuits relating to their smartphone and gaming technologies.

Microsoft and Google released a joint statement on the matter, which shied away from saying that they have agreed to all matters but said that they have in principle agreed to “collaborate on certain patent matters”.

The statement, which did not discuss financial terms to the agreement, said: “Microsoft and Google are pleased to announce an agreement on patent issues.

“As part of the agreement, the companies will dismiss all pending patent infringement litigation between them, including cases related to Motorola Mobility.

“Separately, Google and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers.”

The Motorola Mobility issue they are referring to was one of the sparks that led to the five-year disagreement between the two companies after Microsoft accused Google of using some of its functionalities in the Android operating system.

Likewise, according to Bloomberg, Microsoft had been claiming that Motorola – from whom Google had purchased its mobile technology back in 2011 – were demanding US$4bn per annum in royalties for Microsoft’s gaming console, the Xbox.

Google has since sold Motorola Mobility to the Chinese company Lenovo for U$2.91bn but it still owns the majority of patents to the technology.

In effect, this peace treaty between the two companies is their efforts to join forces against what is seen as one of the tech industry’s biggest scourges of recent years, that being, patent trolls.

To do this, the companies have agreed that they will begin a clampdown on trolls who issue patents for products that they have no plans on ever producing, while also helping the European Union establish a patent court.

US court building image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic