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A small island of good sense has popped up in the tumultuous ocean of smartphone patents: Apple and HTC have quit their legal battles for now.

Specifics of the deal haven’t been announced, beyond a cessation of all legal action worldwide, along with a ten-year licensing agreement between the two companies, covering both present and future patents. The three-paragraph official announcement by Apple is available here.

The patent row between the two companies had been rolling on since 2010, with victories and reversals on both sides.

The agreement does involve HTC paying license fees to Apple, but the Taiwanese company says those payments won’t materially affect its balance sheet.

The settlement doesn’t reach beyond HTC, but it’s worth noting that to date, Apple hasn’t settled with any other smartphone maker using Google’s Android operating system.

Both companies issued bromides about focussing on innovation instead of litigation – although that’s qualified, in Apple’s case, by its ongoing lawsuits against Samsung, Google, and pretty much world+dog.

Taiwan’s government has welcomed the settlement, noting that HTC represents a sizeable chunk of the country’s IT exports, which have fallen for the last six months, says Focus Taiwan. ®

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