Big name technology companies, Microsoft Corp. (Microsoft) and Google Inc. (Google) have been battling for years in a series of patent-related actions related to mobile phones, Wi-Fi and other technologies. Recently, the companies jointly stated that they have reached an agreement that would result in a dismissal of approximately 20 pending patent lawsuits between them. The announcement, however, did not exclude the possibility of future infringement litigation.

The cessation of patent litigation between the technology giants may be indicative of larger changes in the future. First, the latest development demonstrates a shift toward licensing over litigation. This is further confirmed by the recent news of a patent cross-license agreement between Google and SAP. The companies proclaimed their partnership as an opportunity to allow software developers to create and operate without the “distractions from unnecessary patent litigation.”

Another question that arises from the Microsoft-Google announcement is whether Microsoft is ready to abandon some of its questionable patent practices, such as “privateering,” which involves supplying shell companies with patents for the purpose of bringing actions against rival competitors. It is not clear whether the termination of litigation between the companies also includes these other indirect litigation activities.

The truce between the companies also highlights the issue of Google’s intentions with respect to the thousands of patents it has secured in recent years. Google has been an outspoken advocate for patent reform and seems committed to a strategy of collaborating with other companies to eschew patent litigation. But it remains to be seen whether Google will eventually follow the lead of similar companies and turn their patent holdings into a revenue stream from licensing royalties.

Connors & Associates provides experienced legal advice in the areas of patent, trademark and copyright law. John Connors and his team of associates have the expertise to counsel clients about protecting their intellectual property including pursuing, filing and enforcing patent rights. Contact Connors & Associates at (949) 833-3622 or visit them online to learn more about our services or to schedule a consultation.