If you’re tired of hearing patent squabbles left and right (though we haven’t actually heard from Apple and Samsung recently), then this might come as a refreshing change. LG and Google have announced that they have reached a long-term cross-licensing agreement that will let both companies take a peek and use the other’s portfolio of patents. Conversely, it also protects both from lawsuits that involve each others patents, leaving them free to work on their products and technologies, most likely ones surrounding Android and smart devices, without fear of litigation.
Such legal maneuvers aren’t exactly unheard of but are a bit ironic if you think about it. The patent system was designed to encourage innovation and creativity but of late it has become a blunt weapon used to stifle it instead. From incentive, it has transformed into a bogeyman for companies. Now companies are turning to such licensing agreements in order to shield themselves from sometimes whimsical or overzealous patent litigation.
This isn’t the first time Google has made a patent pact with one of its top OEM partners either. Last January, Google and Samsung reached a similar agreement but, given Samsung’s rather unique situation, that contract was seen more than just a simple licensing deal. Samsung was, and still is, considered as the black sheep of the Android family and the licensing agreement was partly seen as a way for Google to curb Samsung’s rebellious nature. Of course, that hasn’t entirely happened to Google’s liking.
Like many legal deals, the public is being given only a very vague Cliff Notes of what’s involved. The patents included in the cross-licensing arrangement supposedly cover a broad range, but we’ll presume it has mostly to do with Android, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and the rest of the intersection of interests between the two companies. The agreement also includes patents that both already hold as well as those that the two will be filing and will be receiving in the next 10 years, similar to the time range in the Google-Samsung deal.