A cross-licensing deal between Samsung Electronics and Google is expected to further reinforce their ties in hardware and software, a move that could push their main rival Apple into a corner in patent rows as the industry braces for more legal warfare over intellectual property, industry sources and analysts said.
“The agreement with Google is highly significant for the technology industry as the deal can fend off unnecessary patent disputes,” said Ahn Seung-ho, the head of Samsung’s intellectual property center, in a statement on Monday.
This alliance will be able to boost the partners’ leverage over Apple in the global markets and at international courts as it enables the two companies to access each other’s patents to boost Samsung’s software and Google’s hardware capabilities.
The Korean tech giant holds about 100,000 globally registered patents, while Google has around 50,000, according to industry sources.
“The latest deal implies that Google is gearing up for possible legal battles in an indirect way by granting Samsung, which would work like a proxy in litigation with Apple, access to its patents,” said Lee Young-woo, an analyst at HMC Investment Securities.
“Samsung has gained more means to use in legal feuds against the Cupertino-based firm. It would be like flexing its muscles over Apple,” he said.
Apple has waged a “thermonuclear” war against Google following the search giant’s introduction of its open-source Android mobile operating system.
The iPhone creator accused Google’s Android of copying its flagship iOS, and also battled Samsung over patent infringement involving the Korean company’s design and functions of its smartphones.
Under the agreement, the world’s biggest smartphone maker and the Internet behemoth would gain access to existing patents as well as those to be filed by both companies over the next 10 years. This mutual accessibility is expected to further accelerate collaboration between the two giants, industry sources said.
“We are pleased to enter into a cross-license with our partner Samsung,” said Allen Lo, deputy general counsel for patents at Google. “By working together on agreements like this, two companies can reduce the potential for litigation and focus instead on innovation.”
Access to patent portfolios held by the two sides will benefit both firms as they can utilize them for future products and services such as smart watches and glasses, flexible smartphones and software, a Samsung official said, adding that the biggest beneficiary would be their customers.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)