Google and Samsung sign global patent deal

Samsung logo Samsung and Apple are locked in multiple court battles over their handset technologies

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Google and Samsung have signed a global patent cross-licensing agreement aimed at reducing "the potential for litigation" and enhancing innovation.

The deal will cover "a broad range of technologies and business areas" and apply to both existing patents and any filed over the next decade.

Both companies already work together closely, with Samsung using Google's Android mobile operating system.

Few other details were provided in a statement posted online.

Samsung called the deal "highly significant for the technology industry" and said it reduces the likelihood of Google and Samsung facing each other in court over intellectual property disputes.

The move is also expected to strengthen their position against rivals such as Apple, which has filed multiple lawsuits worth billions of dollars for alleged patent infringements.

"Samsung and Google are showing the rest of the industry that there is more to gain from co-operating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes," Seungho Ahn, head of Samsung's Intellectual Property Center said in the statement.

Samsung, which is the world's largest smartphone maker, faces lawsuits from Apple in the US and South Korea over mobile technology patents.

Apple has claimed that Samsung and its best-selling line of Galaxy smartphones copied its designs for the iPhone.

Their global patent dispute has dragged on for the past few years and both Apple and Samsung's chief executives are scheduled to meet for mediation in mid-February.

Patent wars

The number of patent lawsuits filed has increased as the market for smartphones and tablets has expanded globally.

Start Quote

The more patents you have the more protected you are from litigation.”

End Quote Andrew Milroy Analyst, Frost & Sullivan

Another high-profile case involves the Rockstar consortium - which includes Apple, Microsoft and Sony. It sued Google and six other smartphone makers that use the Android operating system.

Eight lawsuits were filed in the US over patents relating to Google's mobile technologies and user-interface design.

Google is also engaged in a dispute with Apple through its Motorola Mobility unit, which owns a large patent collection.

To counter this, technology giants have looked to increase their number of patents, as well as sign deals similar to the one announced by Google and Samsung.

Last year, for example, Samsung and Nokia extended a patent licensing agreement for an additional five years, while Apple and HTC also announced a 10-year licensing deal in 2012.

Analysts say such moves create strength by numbers.

"The more patents you have the more protected you are from litigation," Andrew Milroy, an analyst at consultancy Frost & Sullivan said.

"I'm not sure if the agreement means Samsung can use Google patents and vice-versa. But if they are collaborating it protects them from litigation, since the pair of them together is a stronger unit."

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