Late today, Apple and Google announced that they have agreed to dismiss direct lawsuits aimed at one another, and will work together to help push patent reform forward.
It’s a huge change for the two companies, which compete on everything from music sales, to productivity tools, to cloud storage, to mobile app distribution, and so forth. According to a source speaking to GigaOm, about 20 lawsuits will go dark.
Here’s the statement:
Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies. Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform. The agreement does not include a cross license.
There is narrowness implicit to the agreement, given that the companies can still pursue legal action that could harm their core businesses. Apple could sue firms that work with Google, or with Google products, and the like.
Given that surface area of their competition, the détente is notable. Technology patent wars are incredibly common. Apple and Samsung’s recent courtroom battle ended with a nine-figure payment awarded from the latter to the former. The agreement doesn’t appear to ban future litigation, so this is hardly a disarmament — instead, it is a deescalation of current legal action that the firms appear more than willing to leave behind.
If was a gambling man, I’d wager we don’t see much activity of this sort moving forward. And the anti-trust hairs on the back of my neck are prickling ever so slightly.