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October 1st, 2015

Google & Microsoft Shake Hands in Patent Dispute

handshake

Photo by Tobias Wolter

Microsoft is full of surprises these days.

“Microsoft and Google are pleased to announce an agreement on patent issues,” Redmond has said in a joint statement with Google. “As part of the agreement, the companies will dismiss all pending patent infringement litigation between them, including cases related to Motorola Mobility.”

This is pretty amazing. After five years of playing the “sue you sue me blues,” Microsoft and Google have agreed to shake hands and settle their dispute amicably. Although it’s certain that some money is exchanging hands in the process — an appeals court in July ruled against Motorola in a case Google was defending — no terms of the agreement have been released.

What we do know is that the two companies have agreed to work together on a host of patent issues, which is a surprising turn around. Even more surprising is that Redmond has agreed with Google to work against non-practicing entities (NPEs) or trolls, companies that seek to license patents without making products of their own. In the past, Microsoft has joined forces with Apple and others to form trolling companies.

The patent disputes between the two companies are rather complicated and largely revolve around Motorola, which Google owned for a while. The case against Motorola mainly involves ActiveSync, a feature that allows users to sync calendars on phones and desktops. At one point, Microsoft obtained an order that blocked the feature on phones being imported into the U.S., but has said that the order has never been enforced by customs officials.

This agreement comes at a time when Microsoft has been easing its stance against rival operating systems and has been creating apps for its Office suite, under the name Microsoft Office Mobile, to run on both Android and iOS devices.

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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8 comments to Google & Microsoft Shake Hands in Patent Dispute

  • I just can’t shake this uneasy feeling I have. “Back in the day” (early 80’s), I worked for a high-tech, medical device company. We developed our own desktop running CP/M. So we were dialed in to the emerging personal computer market. Anyhow we saw how MS would buy emerging, innovative startups with great ideas and then make those innovative ideas disappear. They didn’t use the ideas. They just snuffed them. Of course, that was when Billy was feeling his oats and MS was working on developing its evil corporate empire mode of operation.

    FWIW, there’s another opinion re this at IT World [ http://www.itworld.com/article/2988354/android/microsoft-ends-patent-disputes-with-google.html ]. The author makes some good points re when we might all breathe a bit easier. eg, joining “the Open Innovation Network, a shared defensive patent pool to protect Linux, and agree to not use their patents against the Linux based products and projects.”

    But for me, even then… it’s still MS.

  • Mindaugas

    Christine Hall. This is capitalism….

  • 2_OK

    Go figure it out!

    Instead of having two dino fight each other in order to have supremacy they have concluded that it is better for them to settle it…
    hm!

  • Mike

    I don’t see why this is a good thing for anyone except Google and Microsoft.

    It’s not like either one of them give a crap about anyone else.

  • @GNUguy We made the same suggestion about Microsoft joining OIN about a week ago here on FOSS Force. 🙂

    http://fossforce.com/2015/09/microsofts-linux-os-and-open-source-cred/

  • @Christine… My bad, I missed it. Obviously. Thanks for the link. That’s a well-written article. Maybe that’s where Swapnil got the idea from.
    Yeah, I’m loving them having to use Linux to build their switch and I suspect it’s for the exact reason (re combination of bloat and potential PR) proposed in that article.
    BTW, love the homage to Linus’ vocabulary.

  • @GNUguy To paraphrase Carl Sagan: “There are billions and billions of articles on the Internet…”

    …leaving you with not nearly enough time to read them all. So I guess you can be forgiven for missing a few. Even one or two on FOSS Force. 🙂

  • Mac Taylor

    ‘Even more surprising is that Redmond has agreed with Google to work against non-practicing entities (NPEs) or trolls,…’

    Not going to believe that in the least. Microsoft set up and subsidized the biggest patent troll in history; Intellectual Ventures.