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Google and Cisco sheath swords in patent-war deal

Peace in our time?

White flag

Google has signed another patent-licensing deal, this time with Cisco, signaling that it has had enough of the Great Patent War litigation frenzy – for the moment, at least.

"Our agreement with Cisco will reduce the potential for litigation, letting us focus instead on building great new products," said Allen Lo, Google's deputy general counsel for patents. "We're pleased to enter into this cross-license, and we welcome discussions with any company interested in a similar arrangement."

Under the terms of the deal, Google and Cisco will agree to share patents as a methods of avoiding litigation between the two firms, and also to strengthen their mutual defenses against "patent assertion entities" – the nice way of saying "patent trolls". Last week, coincidentally, Google started a new round of legal fighting with Intellectual Ventures, one of the largest patent trolls assertion entities.

"In today's overly-litigious environment, cross-licensing is an effective way for technology companies to work together and help prevent unnecessary patent lawsuits," said Dan Lang, Cisco's VP of intellectual property. "This agreement is an important step in promoting innovation and assuring freedom of operation."

It does seem like the Chocolate Factory is coming to its senses and seeking to end the costly rounds of litigation in which it has entangled itself. Last week Google signed off on a similar deal with Samsung to end long-standing disagreements over IP, and more deals are rumored to be in the pipeline.

That said, Google is not going to be running up the white flag in patent courts. Last week's deal to sell Motorola Mobility to Lenovo, but keep the patents, shows the firm is still wedded to extracting royalties, but it's clear the firm is trying to find a better way to do this than going head-to-head in court. ®

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