Microsoft and Google resolve patent war

Two of the largest tech heavyweights have dropped around 20 lawsuits that were in progress in the US and Germany.

The five-year patent battle between Google and Microsoft first started in 2010 over royalties related to technology in the Xbox game console and smartphones from Motorola Mobility.

In short, the companies have been feuding ever since Microsoft claimed that Google’s Android operating system for mobiles had used the company’s tech without paying royalties.

Google previously owned up to the royalty dispute in January 2014, when it sold off its Motorola division to vendor Lenovo, but still kept many of the patents.

However, the two companies have now pledged in a statement that they will start to work together in other ways related to intellectual property, including developments of a royalty-free, video-compression technology to speed downloads.

According to Bloomberg, the two tech firms said in a statement: “Google and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers.”

But it seems the two firms may have been working on a relationship before this agreement, as Microsoft boss CEO tweeted Sundar Pichai, the newly appointed CEO of Google, congratulating him on his promotion. 

This patent battle certainly has lasted for a long time, and it’s no wonder Google and Microsoft have decided to settle their differences and start to work together on new projects.

Aleksi Aaltonen, assistant professor of information systems at Warwick Business School, added: “Patent battles are business as usual for tech giants that use them for various purposes. Lawsuits are used to claim financial damages but undoubtedly are also used for strategic manoeuvring and even for PR.

"Given that software patents are often notoriously ambiguous, lawsuits tend to become drawn out affairs that can last years. It can be very difficult to settle who infringed whose patents. However, in a fast-moving industry both sides may find that a lawsuit and the often retaliatory counter-lawsuit no longer serves a meaningful purpose and decide to stop wasting resources on the battle."

Of course Google and Microsoft aren’t the first companies to get caught up in a patent war, for example Nvidia began battle with Samsung and Qualcomm last year over its GPU patents, while Apple and Samsung are also known for their patent disputes.

But now that the two tech giants have finally resolved their differences, we may start to see some peace in the industry and witness a new partnership between the two.

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