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Apple, Motorola Mobility held patent war peace summit

EU Googorola papers reveal licensing chitchat

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Apple and Motorola Mobility held peace talks at the end of last year to end their patent row with a cross-licensing agreement, according to an EU document.

On Friday the European Commission revealed its thinking [PDF] behind sanctioning Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility. The paperwork mentions the talks in late 2011.

"The parties discussed the scope of any potential settlement in the event that the Google/Motorola Mobility transaction is closed," the commission said. It added that the option under consideration was a cross-licence that could have been to the benefit of all Android-using smartphone manufacturers.

Apple is locked in a global patent war with Android phone-makers including Motorola, Samsung and HTC, but not directly with Google.

The commission pointed out that, under the merger agreement, Google has a say in any final settlement in Motorola's pending litigation because any such deal might affect the material worth of the company. This is fairly standard in a merger agreement as the buyer doesn't want to end up with a biz that's suddenly worth less than expected.

Handing over a load of control to a rival in a lawsuit settlement could hit the company's bottom line in the same way that leaving cameras out of phones would.

However, the EC noted: "There is no evidence on the commission's file that Google has withheld its consent to any proposals submitted to it by Motorola Mobility under this provision. Indeed, in the context of the German litigation, Google has given specific consent for Motorola Mobility to accept [an offer], provided that Motorola Mobility considers it commercially acceptable.

"It appears from the internal documents which the commission has obtained during the merger procedure that Google has not tied any such consent to a cross-licence for the benefit of Android."

This is not the first time in recent months we've had an inkling that Apple and Android manufacturers (and by extension, Google) are getting ready to bury the hatchet in some sort of mutually beneficial way (although both probably hoping for slightly more benefit than their rival).

Last week, reports suggested that Apple was in talks with a number of phone-makers about possible settlements. ®

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