Whatever disputes arch-rivals Google and Microsoft have, today they've agreed that patent litigation isn't the right way to settle them.
The two companies have released a joint statement announcing that they've reached "an agreement on patent issues," which includes dismissing all patent lawsuits between the two companies, including Motorola cases. Financial terms are confidential. The full statement says very little:
Microsoft and Google are pleased to announce an agreement on patent issues. As part of the agreement, the companies will dismiss all pending patent infringement litigation between them, including cases related to Motorola Mobility. Separately, 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.
Microsoft sued Motorola in 2010 for patent infringement, and Motorola counter-sued later that year. Both lawsuits were inherited by Google when it bought Motorola the following year.
Related litigation included a breach of contract case in which Microsoft successfully argued that Motorola went too far when it asked for $4 billion in attempting to license patents that were essential to various standards.
Microsoft's goals for its patent licensing go way beyond Motorola. The software giant says that Google's Android operating system infringes many of its patents, and it believes just about every company making Android devices should pay it royalties. Earlier this year, it sued Kyocera, the most recent in a long string of patent lawsuits over Android.
As early as 2011, Microsoft said it was collecting patent royalties on 50 percent of Android makers, and it has long portrayed Motorola as a lone holdout. The big question now is whether Motorola agreed to pay up or if Microsoft will just have to deal with a big hole in its Android money-collection machine. We won't get an answer in the near future.