Motorola’s patent lawsuit with Apple has has certainly been overshadowed by the massive Apple vs. Samsung trial. However with that historic case now quieting down, Apple’s focus is now shifting to its battle with Google owned Motorola. Recently released news has revealed however that an unexpected turn has happened in this new saga.
A filing on Monday revealed that the Google subsidiary has agreed to license some (if not all) of its standards-essential patents to the Cupertino company – at least in Germany. When exactly the deal was struck isn’t clear, and neither side has announced a royalty rate as of yet. It could be that the German courts will decide what is appropriate according to FRAND rules, but the agreement also includes an admission by Apple that it is liable for past damages relating to these patents. How this admission affects Apple’s case outside of Germany is very interesting. Does this mean the Cupertino company may end up on the receiving end, much like Samsung, of future verdicts against them courtsey of Motorola?
The terms seem to include only “cellular standard-essential” patents, which means Motorola’s claims regarding WiFi and video codecs could still be used as an avenue of attack. But, with at least one set of FRAND patents set aside, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Motorola (Google) end up going after Apple. It may be that Motorola has simply decided to pick its fights more carefully, in light Apple’s recent legal victory, and growing pressure from the European Commission surrounding potential abuse of standards-essential patents. Or, it could be an olive branch and a sign that the patent wars are winding down.