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Apple, Google Settle Motorola Patent Lawsuits

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Apple and Google have agreed to settle their patent lawsuits related to Motorola Mobility, with Apple pursuing its cases against Samsung and others

Apple and Google have agreed to set aside their patent lawsuits related to Google’s Motorola Mobility unit, saying they will work together on patent reform.

The move, announced on Friday, brings to an end one of the highest-profile legal disputes between Apple, which makes the iPhone, and makers of devices using the Android operating system, which is developed by Google. Apple had been fighting Motorola in about 20 cases in the US and Germany.

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Limited agreement

“Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform,” the companies said in a joint statement.

However, the agreement is relatively limited: it only relates to Motorola Mobility, which Google acquired in 2012 for $12.5 billion (£7.8bn) in order to have access to the company’s arsenal of patents, which it planned to use to protect Android in the courts. Google is now in the process of selling Motorola Mobility to China’s Lenovo, while keeping the majority of those patents.

The agreement does not extend to a cross-licence of any smartphone patents, and does not affect Apple’s litigation against other Android device makers – the largest of which is Samsung.

Ongoing litigation

The Rockstar Consortium, set up by Apple, along with BlackBerry, Ericsson and Sony to exploit mobility patents acquired from Nortel, continues to pursue patent litigation against Google and a number of Android manufacturers. Android is now installed on about 80 percent of the smartphones shipped each year.

Apple founder Steve Jobs, now deceased, reportedly had a personal grudge against Android, calling it a “stolen product”.

Apple and Motorola Mobility had been involved in patent litigation since 2010, and their US cases had been consolidated in a Chicago court. Last month an appeals court agreed to allow Apple to pursue another round in the litigation, which had been dismissed in 2012 by a judge who said neither company had presented enough evidence to back their cases.

Earlier this month, a California jury awarded Apple $119.6m in its case against Samsung, a fraction of what the company had been asking for. The court also ordered Apple to pay Samsung $158,000 in damages.

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