Is It Over? Apple, Google Settle Smartphone Patent Litigation, Pledge Reform

In what is an incredibly pleasant surprise, Apple and Google released a joint statement stating that the two companies have agreed to drop all of the ongoing patent litigation between them pertaining to smartphones.

"Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform," said the statement, according to Reuters. The companies asked a federal appeals court to dismiss all of the pertinent cases.

apple hq
Credit: Elwood_j_blues via Wikipedia

There was no indication that other lawsuits would go away, though; Apple’s intense battle against Samsung is still on, for example, and we wonder if Apple will pursue any further litigation related to contested Motorola Mobility patents now that the latter has been snapped up by Lenovo.

This is by no means the end of patent litigation, but it is a good sign that two of the most important tech companies in the world are seeing the light, so to speak. While it’s true that theft of patented technology should not go unchecked, the patent system is terribly flawed. (See Amazon and its white background patent as a case in point.)

USPTO HQ (Credit: Shawn Landersz/CAS-IP)

Ultimately, no one benefits when companies try and sue each other into oblivion. The companies pour a firehose of money into the lawsuits, which linger on for years and years in the courts, and at the end of it neither party tends to be especially better off. That’s wasted money that could be put into R&D or even used to knock a few bucks off of the cost of our expensive gadgets. Customers gain nothing from such litigation.

Apple and Google, it seems, are going to work to change some of the problems inherent in the patent system. We’ll see if this collaboration bears any fruit, but we certainly hope that it does.