It appears that Apple and Google's Motorola Mobility unit is talking about a possible way to resolve a part of their patent dispute related to critical smartphone technology. According to a recent court filing. Lately the two companies have been exchanging proposals on using binding arbitration to reach a license agreement, similar to Apple and HTC. Apple said yesterday that an agreement would lead to a global settlement, hence settling all of their patent disputes.
"Apple is also interested in resolving its dispute with Motorola completely and agrees that arbitration may be the best vehicle to resolve the parties' dispute,"
The issue of arbitration was first raised by Motorola Mobility on November 5th, before a federal judge in Madison, Wisconsin, threw out a breach-of-contract that the Cupertino based smartphone manufacturer had filed. Apple claimed that it's mobile-phone competitor (Motorola Mobility) was misusing standard-essential patents to demand unreasonable royalties as well.
Google General Counsel Kent Walker said the following in a November 13th letter to Apple that was filed with the court:
"We have long sought a path to resolving patent issues and we welcome the chance to build on the constructive dialogue between our companies,"
"While we prefer to seek a framework for a global (rather than piecemeal) resolution that addresses all of our patent disputes, we are committed to reaching agreement on a license for our respective standard-essential patents."
If Motorola/Google and Apple reach an agreement that goes beyond the Motorola dispute, it could cover other devices that run on Android. Including those made by other manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, and LG. According to Alex Spektor, an analyst with Strategy Analytics in Boston.
"It's in everyone's best interest in the industry to pull back and reach some sort of equilibrium,"
"Google could offer a certain level of protection to licensees who comply with whatever standard it puts in place."
Currently both the US Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission are investigating complaints made by Microsoft and Apple that Motorola is misusing those standard-essential patents. In fact, the FTC has recommended filing a lawsuit against Google.
It's getting pretty nasty with Apple and the patents. It might get worse before it gets better, but we'll be sure to keep you updated on this.