Remember when the majority of stories about the mobile tech industry were about innovation and creation, and not patent disputes and court cases? That was a magical time, filled with hopes and dreams, and we may be one step closer to returning to the glory days. That is, if sources are right about Google and the FTC coming to an agreement and settlement on SEP patent disputes. Don't hold your breath though, this is only one small piece of the puzzle when it comes to patent litigation.
SEP's, or standard essential patents, are designed to help the industry function on a day-to-day basis, like letting phones made by different manufacturers make calls to one another. Under the proposed settlement, Google will be forced to drop all injunctions on SEP based lawsuits, with the only exception being if another company refuses to negotiate SEP licensing at all. SEP's should be reasonably priced, and available to any company in that industry for consideration.
The settlement comes as Google's detractors are calling for stricter actions against the search giant from the FTC. Some opponents say the direction of the current FTC direction is too light handed, and are planning to take their complaints to the Justice Department. The European Commission is also investigating many claims against Google for misuse of search information and search bias. Companies have claimed that Google is using information from non-Google entities to provide data for Google services, without the permission of the other company, and that Google is using external data to drive more search results to Google properties. In addition to the FTC and the EU Commission, the Texas attorney general's office is conducting an independent investigation into Google practices.
Obviously this isn't the end of the litigation machine that has plagued multiple tech industries for years, much of which is viewed as hindering the research and development process for many companies as they wait to see the results of multiple lawsuits. With companies afraid of innovating for fear of instigating another court battle, how confident can consumers be about the future of the industry? The court fights also affect the bottom line, a price which is often transferred to the consumer. Hopefully, this is a step toward the end of non-stop litigation among the biggest industry names. Remember, we warned you not to hold your breath.