Google and Samsung, two of the world’s electronic leviathans, announced on Sunday afternoon that they have inked a deal to license one another’s patents. The agreement covers the two companies’ existing patents as well as future patents that will be filed in the next decade.
Neither company has said if the deal encompasses all existing patents, but Samsung’s press release states that the cross-licensing agreement covers “a broad range of technologies and business areas” so it is safe to assume that the agreement extends beyond mobile phone collaboration.
Samsung’s line of smartphones is the most popular hardware on the market that runs on Google’s Android operating system. Today’s agreement is not the first mutually-beneficial partnership between the two companies and it is surely not the last (at least for the next ten years).
Dr. Seungho Ahn, the Head of Samsung’s Intellectual Property Center, called the new agreement with Google “highly significant” because he believes that the two companies are demonstrating for the rest of the technology industry that “there is more to gain from cooperating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes.”
Google’s Deputy General Counsel for Patents, Allen Lo, echoed Ahn’s sentiment in the press release with a thinly-veiled taunt directed at Apple – a competitor that has been waging a patent war against the Korean electronics giant for the past several years. Lo said that an agreement of this nature eliminates the fear of litigation that stifles innovation, and he is most certainly correct.
In the past decade, Apple surpassed Microsoft, their software rival, in profits and market share by embracing the belief that hardware and software should be developed under the same roof. Microsoft, until recently, made the majority of their money by licensing their software to other electronics companies; but that business plan has proven unsuccessful in the modern technology market and Google seems to have earned good marks in their history classes.
Prior to this agreement, Google required Samsung to tailor their hardware to Google’s software (strikingly similar to Microsoft’s strategy during the past thirty years), but now it appears that the two will be working in a far more collaborative environment because neither fears future bouts of litigation regarding the intellectual property of their respective products.
After witnessing what Microsoft and Apple have become, it appears Google is wisely bonding their software with their hardware in an attempt to foster international innovation at a faster rate than any of their competitors.
Google and Samsung’s alliance makes it clear that the two companies are preparing for The Great War against Apple.
In the mean time, it will be interesting to watch how Motorola (the Google-owned smartphone and tablet manufacturer) fares under this new treaty and how Google and Samsung handle the anticipated release of Samsung’s very own mobile operating system, Tizen.
The last detail worth mentioning is that, with this agreement, Google and Samsung were not able to forcibly obtain the 2013 Patent Crown from IBM. Last year, IBM was granted 6,809 patents while Google and Samsung collectively earned only 6,526.
Editorial by Evan Lewis Kuhl