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Apple Agrees To Licensing Deal With Motorola. So Who’s Scared Of Whom?

Eric McBride
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Well this is certainly surprising. We recently reported on Google-rola seeking a sales ban on multiple Apple products in the US, making it the first Motorola patent related case that Google has given a green light for. But while that battle is just getting underway in US court, another one between Google/Motorola and Apple has quietly ended. According to a filing on Monday, Google has apparently agreed to license some (possibly all) if its standard essential patents to Apple in Germany, with Apple even openly admitting their guilt in using these patents. Could it be that Apple was afraid to directly push Google too hard, or was it that Apple’s big win over Samsung might have made the Big G a little nervous?

The interesting thing about this particular case is that Apple freely admitted that they are liable for past damages relating to the patents in question. We don’t have details on when exactly the deal was struck, and neither Google nor Apple have announced a royalty rate yet.

The agreement seemingly only refers to “cellular standard-essential” patents, meaning that claims in relation to WIFI and video codecs are a different topic altogether (and could still be used against Apple). That being said, if one of the FRAND patents in question is already out of the picture, it’s very likely that the rest could follow.

Keep in mind that the deal only applies to Germany so far, and that Google’s attempted sales ban on Apple products in the US has no direct link to this licensing deal. Multiple European courts were very quick to throw out Apple’s allegations against Samsung, and I wonder if Google and Apple are focusing more on slamming the patent banhammer down in US courts? I doubt that Google feels intimidated by Apple, but at the same time, I don’t see Apple being intimidated by Google, especially considering their recent victory.

Despite that victory, we have to remember that Samsung Vs Apple is just getting started, meaning that an appeal, an overturn on the verdict, or a move to the Supreme Court are all possibilities at this time. If Samsung could successfully overturn the verdict, then and only then could I imagine Apple getting intimidated.

Or maybe...just maybe....Google and Apple simply wanted peace? Keep in mind that both companies used to have a very tight relationship, and that Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and the late Steve Jobs were close friends. Could it be that Google and Apple, for once, simply wanted peace?

What do you guys think? Nervous Google, nervous Apple, peace offering, or “see you in the US courtroom”?

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Picture credits: realitypod.com, dryicons.com, edibleapple.com, and infworm.com (merged and edited by myself)

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  • Stefan E. Aug 29, 2012 Link

    I don't think it is based on scare factor. Apple probably calculated low chances of success and then quickly came forward with paying up (however much).

    That will put them in a much better light - they "pay what the patent owner is due", while Samsung "denied them their right until forced by the court". See? They needed to be perceived as the good guys after all that nerd rage.

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  • Eric McBride Aug 29, 2012 Link

    That makes sense Stefan. But do you think they will do the same in the US trial where they are facing multiple product bans?

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  • Stefan E. Aug 29, 2012 Link

    That will depend on their chances to win the corresponding law suit. My mind is not twisted enough to think like a lawyer so I can't calculate those chances - downloading an 8-ball app will probably be more accurate than what I could predict. ;)

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  • Eric McBride Aug 29, 2012 Link

    LMAO!

    I like the way you think :-D

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  • Patrick R. Aug 29, 2012 Link

    A big factor going into the Samsung Apple trial probably goes into one of the fundamental biases (they may admit it or not) a jury member would hold. Samsung is at the end of the day, a foreign company in the US. No matter how may facilities, offices and employees it maintains in the US, a big bulk of its corporate profits goes back to it's HQ in Korea. Apple does not have that distinct advantage in the US courts against Google.

    One disadvantage of Samsung in their case was their witnesses were mostly Koreans who from what I read, gave their depositions in Korean and were presented in court through interpreters, aside from the fact that they were dealing with artists (you know how they are generally regarded as arrogant, aloof and eccentric - case in point, the bowl of water testimony). This would have to be weighed against testimonies by Apple executives fluent in the language of the court. In a scenario like this, who do you think would make a better connection with the jury?

    Not even trying to imply any racial discrimination of any sort but it is a fundamental reality of trials under the jury system. The side who is able to establish a better emotional connection with the jury usually wins. Apple has distinct advantages over Samsung in a stateside trial which would be negated if it were up against Google or maybe even RIM.

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  • CJ Brown Aug 29, 2012 Link

    Yay no spam (well not yet) - I think its just in the best interest for Consumers if Apple just pays Motorol-oogle whatever they owe for the use of certain patents (via license agreements) & if Google can persuade Apple to lighten up on Samsung? Well, that would be another win for Consumers ...

    Its interesting to see how the Courts handle these patent lawsuits (they seem to realize they're not in the best interest for Consumers), I wish America's Courts would follow suit (but we all know that Attorneys p'own our Court System) ...

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  • Eric McBride Aug 30, 2012 Link

    @Patrick - VERY good points bro. Lots of people in the tech industry feel the same way, and that "home court advantage" certainly could have played somewhat of a role.

    @CJ - Google MUST get more involved in defending OEMs now. They simply don't have a choice anymore. I'm interested to see what happens when Google really pushes their muscle.

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  • CJ Brown Aug 30, 2012 Link

    @Eric

    I agree that GOOGLE can't ignore this situation. If they want to run Motorola, then they to support Samsung, HTC, Sony, etc (any Electronic Goods manufacturer who has invested in using Android). Part of supporting these Companies requires "backing them up legally" ...

    Right now, GOOGLE has a chance to encourage Apple to stop going after Electronic Goods manufacturers in the Smart Phone / Tablet market and start being an innovator again ...

    From all over the web, there's a similar opinion amongst Apple and Android users that these patent lawsuits are not good for Consumers - that we're not going to see new (& better) products available in the immediate future ...

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