Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) have agreed to drop multiple patent-infringement lawsuits against each other in what could signal a change in strategy for the two companies that have been fighting each other for years over smartphone technologies in courtrooms around the world. “Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies,” said the two tech giants in a joint statement released on Friday and obtained by the Financial Times. “Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform. The agreement does not include a cross license.”
Although the agreement only ends “direct” litigation between the companies and does not include a cross-licensing agreement, this may be a sign that the makers of the world’s two most popular mobile operating systems are beginning to soften their stances on a patent war that has resulted in few long-term benefits for either side. The agreement comes on the heels of the recently concluded Apple v. Samsung (SSNLF.PK) patent-infringement trial in California. Although the trial resulted in a nearly $120 million damages award for Apple, the verdict was widely seen as a symbolic victory for Samsung, since the iPhone maker had been seeking $2.2 billion in damages. Google offered testimony and financial support to Samsung in the trial, since its Android operating system was at the heart of most of Apple’s patent-infringement claims.
Apple kicked off the smartphone patent wars in 2011, when it filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Samsung, the Korean-based company that has risen to become the biggest smartphone vendor in the world. Samsung’s devices are powered by Google’s Android, a mobile operating system that Apple has long accused of copying aspects of its own iOS. Most industry watchers view Apple’s litigation against Samsung and other makers of Android-based smartphones as a proxy war on the biggest mobile operating system rival to iOS.