Software

Microsoft and Google ink SECRET TREATY to end all their patent wars

Chumship pact pie carve-up details kept under wraps

By Neil McAllister in San Francisco

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Google and Microsoft have inked a secret deal in which all patent disputes between the mammoth companies will be abandoned.

The exact terms of the agreement – as in, who gets what – were not disclosed. Your guess is as good as ours.

"Microsoft and Google are pleased to announce an agreement on patent issues," the companies said in a joint statement that was sent to El Reg via email. "As part of the agreement, the companies will dismiss all pending patent infringement litigation between them, including cases related to Motorola Mobility."

The two online giants had been set to lock horns in around 20 patent lawsuits in the US and Germany, based on issues ranging from mobile phones to streaming video. Those cases have now been resolved in one fell swoop.

"Separately," the joint statement said – implying it was a completely unrelated issue – "Google and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers."

What areas those may be, and what "patent matters" they may entail, was not disclosed.

Microsoft has been the chief aggressor in this spat, having alleged beginning in 2010 that Google's Android mobile operating system infringed on several of its patents.

Since then, the software giant has signed patent licensing agreements with just about every Android device vendor in the business. Although it keeps the terms of such deals under its hat, patent licensing related to Android is thought to bring it more than a billion dollars in revenue each year.

It's even been said that Microsoft earns more money from Android than it does its own Windows Mobile operating system, which in terms of market share has long trailed Android and Apple's iOS by a wide margin.

When asked about it in 2014, Redmond's lawyers said Microsoft holds "hundreds" of patents that could be asserted against Android device makers.

Just how those potential lawsuits or licensing agreements might pan out in light of this latest patent detente with Google isn't immediately clear. ®

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