Microsoft, Google end world war over patents, call truce in US, Germany

01 Oct 2015


Microsoft and Google have agreed to cease all patent infringement litigation against each other, as they settle 18 cases in the US and Germany.

In a sign of the cooling off of hostilities between the companies globally, Microsoft and Google said the deal would end court fights involving a variety of technologies, including mobile phones, Wi-Fi, and patents used in Microsoft's Xbox game consoles and other Windows products.

The agreement also ends all litigation involving Motorola Mobility, which Google sold to Lenovo Group last year while keeping its patents.

However, as Microsoft and Google continue to make products that competed directly with each other, including search engines and mobile computing devices, the agreement notably did not discount any future infringement lawsuits, a Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed.

"Google and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers," the companies said in a joint statement.

They also pledged in a statement to work together in other ways related to intellectual property, including development of a royalty-free, video-compression technology to speed downloads, in an initiative that also involved Inc and Netflix Inc. They would also lobby for specific rules on a unified patent system throughout Europe.

According to commentators, the agreement marked a new amity between Microsoft and one of its top rivals and reflected a different tone set by chief executive officer Satya Nadella.

On 10 August when Sundar Pichai was named CEO of Google, in a congratulatory tweet Nadella called the promotion well deserved.

"This opens up the door for partnerships between Google and Microsoft, as Nadella is changing the image of the company into a lover and not a hater of other technology stalwarts," reported Bloomberg, quoting Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets.

The companies had been at daggers drawn since Microsoft claimed in 2010 that Google's Android operating system for mobile devices had incorporated its technology without paying royalties.

The agreement to become allies when it came to patents only went that far, say commentators.

Google was lining up new products to compete with Microsoft, including a tablet computer designed for business customers to compete with Microsoft's SurfacePro.

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