Science and Tech


Why Have Apple And Google Ended Their 'Thermonuclear War'?

Apple and Google have agreed to end their bitter patent battle, instead working toward patent reform. It's a move that has many wondering why.
Posted at 4:30 PM, May 17, 2014

Apple and Google have squashed their long-held patent disputes, instead deciding to work together for patent reform. It's a move that's got the tech world scrambling to find reason. 

Many outlets are quick to point out this doesn't bring an end to the bitter battle between Apple and Samsung — the only lawsuits coming to an end are the ones "directly between" Apple and Google. 

The disputes between Apple and Google — lovingly called "thermonuclear war" by the late Steve Jobs — have been costly for both companies. (Via Flickr / acaben)

GigaOm points out the seemingly futile nature of the battle. "The patent fights ... have resulted in hundreds of millions, or even billions, of dollars in legal cost to each side, but have failed to make a material difference in the smartphone market."

Which appears to be true — other than judges ruling large amounts of money be paid to either party for patent infringement, smartphone software and hardware have remained mostly unchanged.

The Next Web says the settlement seems to be part of an overall plan for peace from the Cupertino company. Despite its ongoing battle with Samsung, "the company settled with HTC and signed a 10-year patent licensing deal" in 2012.

 And AppleInsider says the move is a defense tactic of sorts, protecting large companies against patent trolls and patent litigation. "Larger firms are looking to patent reform as a way to curb the onslaught of lawsuits."

But a writer for TechCrunch warns this isn't necessarily the be-all-end-all to patent disputes between the companies. 

"The agreement doesn't appear to ban future litigation, so this is hardly a disarmament — instead, it is a deescalation of current legal action that the firms appear more than willing to leave behind." (Via TechCrunch)

Of note: the two companies haven't made any cross-licensing agreements, relying instead on their partnership for patent reform.