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Apple, Google Settle Motorola Patent Dispute But Broader Issues Remain

The move leaves open other Android-related disputes including a long-running legal battle with Samsung.

Apple and Google said late Friday that they have dismissed a series of lawsuits in which they were directly suing one another.

The suits being settled involved Apple and Google’s Motorola unit, which is in the process of being sold to Lenovo.

“Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies,” Apple and Google said in a joint statement. “Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform. The agreement does not include a cross license.”

However, the move doesn’t bring an end to Apple’s patent issues against makers of Android hardware, most notably Samsung. A federal jury in San Jose earlier this month ordered Samsung to pay Apple $119 million in damages, ruling its Android phones infringed on Apple’s patents. An earlier trial and partial retrial resulted in more than $900 million in damages being award to Apple.

Both cases are likely to face years of appeals.

As for the cooperation, the companies didn’t offer any further details, but presumably they share a common enemy in the “non-practicing entities” sometimes referred to as patent trolls.

Motorola, then a separate company from Google, sued Apple in 2010 alleging a wide range of patents were infringed by Apple products.

That touched off a massive, multi-continent legal battle that included lawsuits and counter-suits in the U.S. as well as International Trade Commission actions and legal battles in Germany.

There were about 20 pending actions in the U.S. and Germany that will be dismissed as a result of this agreement.

Google paid $12 billion to acquire Motorola, in large part for its patent portfolio. However, many of its patents are the kind of fundamental patents needed for communications protocols, known as standards essential-patents.

Apple has argued, often successfully, that standards-essential patents should not be used to issue injunctions on products.

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