Apple, Google agree to drop multiple mobile patent lawsuits

Apple and Google give few clues about how or why they finally decided to sign a truce

Apple Inc. and Google Inc. have settled their sprawling patent lawsuits, bringing to a close — for the moment — one of the most bitter legal feuds in Silicon Valley.

Late Friday afternoon, the companies issued a brief statement announcing an end to direct legal hostilities but giving few clues about how or why they finally decided to sign a truce.

Apple has long labeled Google's Android mobile operating system a copy of its iPhone operating system. Meanwhile, Motorola Mobility, which Google acquired two years ago, has filed a series of lawsuits against Apple for infringing its mobile patents.

"Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies," the companies said in a joint statement. "Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform. The agreement does not include a cross license."

The deal does not appear to apply to Apple's ongoing litigation against South Korean rival Samsung Electronics. Apple has now won two trials in U.S. District Court in which juries have found that Samsung violated its patents.

However, those victories have done little to slow the market share losses that Apple has experienced around the world to Samsung's phones, as well as other smartphones that run Android.

On Friday, Apple and Google told a federal appeals court in Washington that their respective cases against each other should be dismissed. The companies had at least 20 pending lawsuits in the U.S. and German courts that are now over.

The deal comes as Google prepares to shed Motorola. Earlier this year, Google said it was selling Motorola to Lenovo for $2.9 billion. That deal has not yet closed.

In terms of patent reforms, both Apple and Google have found themselves growing targets of patent trolls. Both companies recently asked the Supreme Court to issue rulings that would make it easier for them to collect legal fees from entities that lose patent lawsuits. They believed that by raising the stakes for losing, companies would think twice before filing patent lawsuits.

Twitter: @obrien

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