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Steve Jobs' death clears way for Apple-Android peace talks

iPad maker and rivals at patent negotiation table

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Apple is reportedly negotiating with Android manufacturers to license its patent portfolio as it continues to pile up the ammunition such negotiations will need.

The news comes from the Dow Jones news wire, which talked to the omniscient "people familiar with the matter", and discovered that Apple plans to abandon its policy of all-out nuclear war with Android - a conflict led by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who was hell bent on annihilating Google's mobile operating system.

Apple's change of heart opens the door to a negotiated settlement rather than just trying to kill off the competition regardless of the costs.

The report points out that Apple's limited product portfolio is making it increasingly vulnerable. Samsung and its ilk have a range of devices, so they can afford to take one or two off the shelves should a court demand it, but a moratorium on iPad sales would hurt Apple a lot more.

Other companies have also been quick to modify products which infringe on Apple's UI patents, while Apple would have a harder time getting round patents on radio signalling or basic engineering which competitors might hold.

Not that Apple is standing still: it has just been awarded a new patent on parental control of children's spending, so a child could have an iTunes account but every transaction (or every transaction above a certain point) would have to be authorised by the parent.

The patent also covers taking that control into the real world, though NFC, and thus attracting the attention of NFC World and prompting more speculation about Apple's plans to follow Google into the mobile wallet business.

Patents like that will bring Apple's competitors to the negotiating table, enabling both sides to compare patent piles and exchange cash in the way the industry has been doing for decades.

Former Apple CEO Jobs' intent was always to try to destroy the competition and to use its patents to knock Android out of the picture entirely. But that hasn't worked, so coming to the table makes sense – just as long as it has a big enough pile of patents to take along. ®

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