Patent peace for Apple and Google

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Apple and Google, fierce rivals in mobile software, have agreed to dismiss patent lawsuits related to smartphone technology between the two companies.

The companies said Friday that they would work together on patent reform, but clarified that they would not be agreeing to license each other's technologies.

"Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies," the companies said in a joint statement. "Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform. The agreement does not include a cross license."

The companies declined to comment on why they had reached the agreement.

Motorola sued Apple for patent infringement in 2010, and Apple sued back. Since then, the two have been battling over patents in nearly two dozen lawsuits in the United States and Europe.

The agreement does not apply to the more prominent patent feud between Apple and Samsung Electronics, even though Google had helped cover some of Samsung's legal costs for the latest patent trial between Apple and Samsung that ended this month. In that trial, a jury decided Samsung had to pay Apple about $120 million for violating three Apple mobile patents.

Google acquired Motorola Mobility in 2012 for $12.5 billion and said this year that it planned to sell the Motorola phone business to Lenovo, while keeping the bulk of the patents it inherited in the acquisition.

At first glance, it seems shocking that Apple, the iPhone maker, would agree to play nice with Google, which offers Android, by far the most popular mobile operating system in the world. But in the face of Apple's fight with Motorola, both Apple and Google have grown closer because they share common enemies: businesses that exist solely to buy patents so they can sue others, known as patent trolls.

Apple and Google have each been sued nearly 200 times in the past five years by such businesses. Apple last year was the top target for patent lawsuits, and Google was among the top three. To combat trolls, both companies this year asked the Supreme Court to make it easier to collect lawyers' fees from patent holders who lose frivolous patent suits.


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