The Patent Wars that have been raging through the mobile development world have taken an interesting turn recently. The legal battle between Apple and the Taiwanese smartphone maker, HTC, have reached a halting agreement. The impact of this could be much more than it seems when you take a step back. Could this be the first strike that raises the bid in the Patent Wars? Or is it a signal that the patent wars are at an end?
HTC VS Apple
These two mobile development companies have some legal history that has hurt the Android phone maker. There was even a ban on HTC devices won by Apple that did much damage to HTC. The recent law suits between the two involved HTCs LTE based patents and an attempt to gain a ban on the LTE iPad and iPhone. The case was looking promising as Apple has been winning its cases of late, but a particular ITC judge wasnÔÇÖt a fan and even told them they would have a rough time proving that the HTC patents were invalid. With a statement from HTC stating there would be no deals or agreements, things were looking a little heated.
The last few years have been filling with mobile development companies suing each other over everything and anything they could. Patents are a good thing, but many consumers were tiring of the antics of these companies. The Patent Wars start to impact the consumer as well as the companies themselves as bans and holds were put on the mobile devices that they wanted or had purchased. The potential for an end to the Patent Wars is an exciting prospect, but maybe a premature one.
The recent settlement between Apple and HTC is an interesting one considering HTCÔÇÖs statement about refusing one. Both parties agreed to a 10-year cross licensing deal which means that Apple and HTC will gain licenses to each otherÔÇÖs current and future patents.
This is very interesting considering Apple has thousands of patents and HTC has only 300. Apple is not one to make a trade that isnÔÇÖt profitable to the mobile development company, so what else did they get? Both companies are being tightlipped about it, but considering HTC is paying Microsoft royalties for every Android phone it ships, it makes sense to guess that a similar deal was struck with Apple.
HTC will likely be able to turn this deal into a profitable one whether there are royalties or not, Apple however will certainly be losing out without them. Avoiding the LTE issue is important to them, but it isnÔÇÖt the first time they have had to work around a problem. Whether it was the intention or not this agreement could end up as a very profitable end to a potentially disastrous case for HTC.
What I Think
I strongly dislike the Patent Wars if you couldnÔÇÖt tell and the idea that they may be nearing an end makes me happy, and skeptical. If there is a royalty added to HTCÔÇÖs Android sales for Apple then both Apple and Microsoft are ÔÇ£taxingÔÇØ HTCÔÇÖs ability to sell Android products. The only problem I see here is that Microsoft has similar deals with about 13 phone makers on Android devices and if Apple starts to add to that, the companies will together be reducing phone makerÔÇÖs ability to profit from GoogleÔÇÖs OS. Could this be a push by the two giants to knock out their competitor?
It looks more like Apple is going for the throat of one of GoogleÔÇÖs weakened proxies rather than just giving ground in the overall battle. Both Apple and Microsoft view Google as a strategic threat in the market. With their combined patents creating an effective monopoly against Google they are able to attack the search giant in a way that was not possible before without running into antitrust laws. This could be the beginning of their endgame against Google.