In 2008, the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, said he was declaring “thermonuclear war” on Google over its Android software, and that is how the Apple vs Google lawsuit began. Jobs had been infuriated with his rival, Eric Schmidt, who was Google’s chief executive officer at the time. Because of the competition that kept sparring between Apple and Google, Schmidt, who had been on Apple’s board of directors was asked to leave. Lex Machina, a legal analysis company based in Menlo Park, California, did a study which revealed that Google was number four last year in getting sued and Apple was the most-sued when it came to patents. The thermonuclear war is now acknowledging a ceasefire where patent-licensing firms are concerned, which is where the Apple vs Google lawsuit agrees to stop its attacks.
The intellectual-property wars between these two technology giants in the Silicon Valley have now come to a halt. It seems that they have realized that rather than working against each other, it would be wiser to pool their energies and come together in an attempt to look more closely at the patent laws and work together to reform them. Specifically, what was agreed upon in the Apple vs Google lawsuit, was to stop the patent litigation on all mobile technology between Google Motorola and Apple. Surprisingly, both agreed to shoulder their own expenses. Neither company has chosen to comment on the effects that this decision will have on either of them.
In a joint statement, Apple and Google agreed to dismiss all lawsuits that currently exist, which accounted for 20 in the US and Europe. However, that does not constitute total peace between the two, as they did not agree to not attack where cross-licensing is concerned. Court rulings indicated that the dollars being spent by these two companies was in the tens of millions. These fiery lawsuits betwixt Apple and Google may be over for now, but does that mean that there are other thermonuclear warheads lurking in the shadows of “cross-licensing?” That remains to be seen, as there could still be Apple vs Google lawsuits in the future.
One of the sore spots in all of the litigation had to do with the patent on the Motorola Mobility. Google had the patent on this handset unit, which was sold to Lenovo Group Ltd. in January for $2.91 billion. Google had acquired it for more than $12 billion in 2012, and as part of the deal Google did manage to keep the thousands of patents in the portfolio. Apple acknowledged that it was not concerned about the Motorola division as it is no longer a big contender. A law professor, Michael Risch from Villanova University, had commented that since Motorola was not a big competitor, Google’s gesture was mostly symbolic. Another law professor, Brian Love from Santa Clara University School of Law, feels that all of this ceasefire could be a signaling from Apple to re-direct its attention into litigation against Samsung.
Samsung is the largest manufacturer of Android phones and Apple currently has patent battles going on with them. That legal feud centers around each accusing the other of duplicating smartphone innovations. This began when the Galaxy series became a contender in the mobile device line. This past week, the Tokyo District Court in Japan ruled in favor of Apple, acknowledging that Samsung was illegal in its demand to ban sales and excessive royalties, which meant that it abused its Standards Essential Patents. Samsung was attempting to win royalties against the iPhone maker. A Grand Panel met that involved two hearings and concluded that the sales injunction against Apple was reckless and they had no right to make the demand. Needless to say, Apple was singing high praises to the court in Japan.
Although animosity is probably still in the air regarding the Apple vs Google lawsuit, tensions are expected to disappear as these two titans turn the tide on the “patent trolls.” Patent trolls are businesses who get their revenue by acquiring patents and then look for companies to sue who may have abused those patents. Apple and Google have often been the targets of such businesses. Now those businesses will become the targets of Apple and Google as they determine how to reform the patent world. It is their desire that these “patent trolls” will be held responsible for their actions and the result would be for them to have to pay the defendant’s attorney’s fees in the cases that they lose.
Wars are bloody, but for now, it appears that the thermonuclear fallout in the lawsuit of Apple vs Google has truly come to a ceasefire.Their new joint-venture will be to go after the “patent trolls.” One thing that remains after all is said and done, when it comes to smart phone branding, Apple is still known for the most recognizable brand, the iPhone.
By Jill Boyer-Adriance