Apple, Google 'interested' in arbitration over patent disputes

US-Iran nuclear talks might be less complex than this arbitration
US-Iran nuclear talks might be less complex than this arbitration

The idea of Apple and Google's Motorola Mobility coming together to resolve their never-ending patent disputes seems more likely today now that both companies are expressing interest.

"Apple is also interested in resolving its dispute with Motorola completely," Apple said in a filing picked up by Bloomberg. "Arbitration may be the best vehicle to resolve the parties' dispute."

This conciliatory tone matches Motorola Mobility's arbitration suggestion floated on Nov. 5.

That's the same day that a US judge threw out Apple's lawsuit against Motorola for alleged patent licensing violations.

The HTC example

Both companies are looking to avoid expensive litigation in favor of less costly licensing fees.

That is the route sought by Apple and HTC in a 10-year licensing agreement that dropped all current lawsuits between the two phone manufacturers.

The terms, though undisclosed officially, are said to have HTC paying Apple up to $8 (UK£5.03, AUD$7.67) for every device it sells.

Even though this is a lower figured than Apple had originally proposed, according to analyst Shaw Wu, it's a lot more economical than paying for drawn out lawsuits.

Wu estimated that the deal could make Apple anywhere from $180 million (UK£113, AUD$176) up to $280 million (UK£176, AUD$268) a year.

That's $323,529 per patent

The proposed arbitration between Apple and Google would be much more complicated, as the search giant has 17,000 of Motorola's patents to bring to the table.

These patents are said to be the main reason Google bought Motorola Mobility in the first place.

Google says it spent $5.5 billion (around £3.5 billion) of its $12.4 billion (around £8 billion) bid on Motorola's catalog of patents alone. That comes out to $323,529 (£203,708) per patent.

Global framework preferred

The idea arbitration is seen as a positive step forward for both companies, but Google also expressed interest in a global framework for patents down the line.

"We have long sought a path to resolving patent issues and we welcome the chance to build on the constructive dialogue between our companies," said Google General Counsel Kent Walker in a Nov. 13 letter to Apple that was filed with the court.

"While we prefer to seek a framework for a global (rather than piecemeal) resolution that addresses all of our patent disputes, we are committed to reaching agreement on a license for our respective standard-essential patents."

To this point, United Nations got involved last month, hosting Apple, Google and Microsoft at a Geneva summit to discuss the global problem.

However it comes about, settling patent disputes may be a boon for innovation.

Via Bloomberg

Matt Swider