Over the past few years Microsoft and Google have been in a tangled web of disputes over patent issues. However, they have recently agreed to dismiss any patent infringement litigation against each other, settling eighteen cases. The mentioned lawsuits relate to uses of technologies in smartphones, wifi, and patents used in Microsoft’s Xbox game Console and other windows products. Recently, technology companies have opted to handle patent disputes out-of-court.
In 2010 Microsoft accused Motorola (which was later bought by Google), of breaching its obligation to fairly license its patents used in Xbox systems and wireless technology. Microsoft claimed that Google’s Android operating system for mobile devices had incorporated its technology without paying royalties. This complaint was upheld by an Appeals Court.
Microsoft had also sued Google over a patent that allowed long text messages to be broken up into pieces, sent, and reassembled on the receiver’s phone.
The above-mentioned agreement settling eighteen cases, does not preclude any future infringement lawsuits, therefore it is questionable whether any future disputes will arise given that Microsoft and Google continue to produce products that compete directly with each other, including search engines and mobile devices.
That said, Microsoft and Google have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and to working together in other areas in the future in order to benefit their customers. The two companies have said that they have been co-operating on issues such as on the development of a unified patent court for the EU, and on royalty-free technology to speed up downloads. The companies are pushing to ensure that these types of lawsuits do not become as prevalent in Europe as they are in the U.S.
Google and Microsoft are not the first companies to come to an agreement to settle patent disputes. In 2014, a similar agreement between Samsung and Apple was entered into.