Google, Apple: talking patent peace in our time?

Maybe Google got the hint after watching what happened to Samsung last week, but CNET has confirmed that the CEOs of Apple and Google have held at least one conversation, in a bid to resolve the myriad of intellectual property and patent disputes between the companies.

(Credit: CNET)

Apple's CEO Tim Cook and Google's Larry Page talked before last week's verdict of the Samsung-Apple trial and plan to talk again in a few weeks, according to a person familiar with dealings.

The news of the conversations between the two CEOs was first reported by Reuters.

Reuters also reported that talks are taking place between the companies at a lower echelon. Google declined comment. We've reached out to Apple and will update the post when we hear back.

But you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind's blowing. After its one-sided court victory last week over Samsung in a landmark copy infringement lawsuit, Apple has added incentive to press its legal claims against other computer makers who use Google's Android operating system.

When the Samsung decision was announced last Friday afternoon, Google immediately attempted to distance itself from the case, declaring that most of the patents in question "don't relate to the core Android operating system".

Given the lopsided nature of Samsung's legal defeat, Google may believe that the prospects of an Apple lawsuit are higher than they were, just a week ago.

"Theoretically, they could hold Google responsible for all of the harm that Android allegedly causes to Apple, but it's a much more difficult story to tell to a judge and, especially, a jury," noted Florian Mueller, a patent attorney who writes a widely-read blog about intellectual property and patent law. "It's also more difficult to get an injunction against someone who doesn't compete with you directly, only indirectly."

Meanwhile, the repercussions of Apple-Samsung are still reverberating. Earlier this week, the Korea Times reported that Samsung and several US carriers were seeking to find ways to modify their designs to avoid further legal entanglements with Apple. Of more direct concern to Google, the paper also reported considering warming up to Microsoft and reducing its reliance upon Google's Android platform.

The companies are already involved in litigation through Google's ownership of Motorola Mobility. A couple of weeks back, Motorola Mobility filed another lawsuit against Apple, in a move to block the company from importing the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and certain Macs. This was part of a longer back-and-forth patent fight that's raged for years between Apple and Motorola.

At the same time, the companies were able to reach a tentative deal a few days ago to license out certain Motorola patents to Apple.


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