The patent system was formed in order to foster innovation but, unsurprisingly, some enterprising people have been able to turn it into a business. To be more specific, some have the business of suing others for patents they never created or never use. Yes, these are the patent trolls that threaten even giants like Google, Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft. In order to protect its often-targeted platform, Google has formed the “Android Networked Cross-License Agreement” with its hardware partners. And to give it a catchier name, Google is calling it “PAX”, the Latin word for “peace”.
Much of the details surrounding PAX is still shrouded in mystery. On the surface, Google says that the effort is meant to encourage patent holders to share their patents, royalty-free, and foster even more innovation in the Android world.
How does it do that? Companies who sign up for PAX won’t have to worry about being sued by other members. At least for the patents that are covered in the agreement. Whether they will be able to protect themselves against patent trolls remains to be seen. But their collective strength is probably a lot greater than any troll’s.
PAX patents, however, seem to be limited only to “Android and Google Applications on qualified devices”. The “qualified devices” here refers to those that meet the Android Compatibility requirements and, therefore, officially ship with Google Play services. The patents seem to include only software-related ones, which leaves the door still open for hardware patent lawsuits. Networking technology seems to be a favorite.
Google lists itself, Samsung, LG, Foxconn, HMD Global, HTC, Coolpad, BQ, and Allview as the founding members of this new, Android-centric patent pact. In the spirit of openness, it is also inviting other companies, big or small, to join to make the Android experience better while protecting themselves from costly lawsuits.