Google today announced the introduction of the 'Android Networked Cross-License Agreement' or what the company refers to as"PAX" for short. While shortened names of new services typically come in acronym form, Google explains that "pax" is Latin for "peace" – which Google also explains, is one of the driving forces behind the Android Networked Cross-License Agreement, "patent peace."
More simply, Google today announced a new patent licensing agreement that has been setup to grant a number of companies access to patents without having to pay any royalties. Google specifically notes that these royalty-free patent licenses are relevant to "Android and Google Applications on qualified devices. " Although, Google does not go into any further details on the nature of the patents or provide any worthwhile examples of what sort of patents are covered by the initiative. However, Google has confirmed a number of the members (companies who have signed up to the PAX agreement) and they do include some of the most prominent Android-related companies. Such as, Samsung, LG, Foxconn, HMD Global (who currently owns the rights to the Nokia smartphone branding), HTC, and more. Not forgetting of course, Google is also one of the companies who has signed up to the same patent-exchange agreement.
While Google does not go into much detail on the agreement or on what technologies are covered by PAX, it is clear that this seems to revolve more around the software side of the business. Meaning, any hardware patents that are in place will remain subject to the usual patent rules, royalties, and disputes. However, under PAX, it seems members will be able to share software advancements without having to worry about "patent threats." Something Google hopes will lead to greater levels of "innovation and consumer choice". In spite of the bigger manufacturer names being dropped in the announcement, this is an initiative which is likely to be as beneficial to smaller manufacturers – as Google notes that PAX is open to all and is free to join. Which likely means that smaller manufacturers who become members will be able to benefit from royalty-free access to patents owned by other and larger members. Which at the moment, and according to Google, collectively stands at more than 230,000 patents at launch. Although, this is a number which Google expects to increase as more companies sign up to PAX in the future.