Apple offers licensing deals in some Android patent infringement disputes, sources say

“Apple Inc. is fighting a multi-front patent war against competing makers of mobile devices, demanding injunctions that would block sales of their products. But the company has also indicated a willingness to cut deals with competitors, according to people familiar with the matter,” Ian Sherr reports for Dow Jones Newswires.
“The consumer-electronics company has put forth proposals to Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. to settle some pending litigation in exchange for royalty payments to license its patents, among other terms, these people said,” Sherr reports. “This is not a new tactic; Apple had some discussions with companies such as Samsung before initiating litigation, according to statements made to a court in at least one suit. Apple isn’t attempting to offer patent licenses to all its competitors or create a royalty business, one person familiar with the matter said.”

“However, some people familiar with the situation see more reason for Apple to consider legal settlements,” Sherr reports. “One factor is that Android has proliferated so widely that shutting the software out of the market using injunctions is no longer practical, one of the people said. Licensing is an alternative that could add cost to Android development and make it less appealing for manufacturers. Apple, of Cupertino, Calif., has asked for between $5 and $15 per handset for some of its patents in one negotiation, or roughly 1% to 2.5% of net sales per device, another person familiar with the matter said. Motorola, for its part, has been criticized for asking for 2.5% of net sales per device for its wireless patents from Apple.”

“None of the people could confirm if settlement talks are currently taking place, but say this is part of an ongoing process,” Sherr continues, “Any offer to license patents would seem to oppose statements from co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in October.”

Sherr repots, “The company told an Australian court last year that Jobs had begun discussions with Samsung in the summer of 2010, in part because of the close relationship between the companies. But those talks broke down when Samsung released its first Android- based tablet, the Galaxy Tab, in the fall of 2010.”


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