Google and Samsung have further strengthened their alliance through new connection by signing a global patent-licensing agreement in the midst of fierce intellectual warfare with rival companies like Apple. These two giants already have a close relationship with each other in smart phone market through Android platform.
The new deal, according to Samsung’s corporate blog, is intended to minimize unnecessary litigation and instead put the efforts of both companies into innovation. The statement appears to be a swipe at Apple, who has been battling Samsung for several years over numerous patents. The deal also places Samsung, the No. 2 U.S. patent holder, with Google, the No. 11, according to ZDNet.
This deal will help both companies to fight endless stream of lawsuits against smart phone manufacturers for Google’s Android platform, which dominates the market with more than 75% share. Samsung is the top Android phone manufacturer, whose high-end smartphones such as Galaxy series utilizes Android operating system. However, such position also made it an easy target for other platform competitors such as Apple. Apple argues in the U.S. and around the world that Samsung and other Android vendors copied the design of iPhone and its operating system, iOS, resulting in lawsuits and counter-lawsuits.
By bolstering its tie through the newest patent deal with each other, Google and Samsung have strengthened their level of legal protection against potential liabilities. Samsung has already received adverse judgment in recent patent lawsuit brought by Apple. It was ordered to pay $930 million in damages to Apple, and now in the process of settling without going further in litigation, as executives from both sides are expected to meet in some time around February. If the settlement negotiation fails, Apple and Samsung will go into another round of courtroom drama in March.
The deal is more significant as a formation of another power group in potential patent litigation. The Rockstar consortium consisted of Apple, Sony, and Microsoft launched massive lawsuits against Google, Samsung, and six other Android smart phone manufacturers after the consortium purchased the Nortel patent for $4.5 billion. The suits target the Google’s central advertising business in search and some other mobile technologies. Huawei, one of defendants, settle with Rockstar last week. In response, Google filed a counter-lawsuit against Rockstar in December 2013. Google has another lawsuit against Apple, which involves patents it acquired from Motorola.
While tech giants are engaged in a full-scale patent warfare, some of the same players are trying to find a solution through licensing deals. Apple and HTC signed in 2012 a 10-year licensing agreement that will keep each other from suing another. In November 2013, Samsung and Nokia decided to continue its existing patent license agreement for five more years.
Google’s decision to strength its business connection with Samsung is strategically logical at least in short-term for both companies for several reasons. Google does not have a power player in Android platform like Samsung. Google can supply software that Samsung seems unable to develop for or deliver to end-users. Apple is an arch-enemy for both Google and Samsung.
By: Jonathan JY Jung