Apple and HTC end lawsuits, signs ten-year deal for patents (Updated)

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Apple and HTC have announced an end to all hostilities in their global patent dispute, with both companies signing a ten-year patent licence agreement. Apple sued HTC in 2010 for infringing on its patents, with HTC fighting back – sparking a battle between the Cupertino-based company and the entire Android ecosystem.

“HTC is pleased to have resolved its dispute with Apple, so HTC can focus on innovation instead of litigation,” CEO for HTC, Peter Chou, said in a statement.

“We are glad to have reached a settlement with HTC. We will continue to stay laser focused on product innovation,” Tim Cook, Apple CEO, said in the same statement.

The terms are confidential, according to the statement. HTC spokesperson Jeff Gordon told The Verge he does not expect the deal “to have any adverse material impact” to the company – or in other words, it won’t cost a lot of money.

We assume that it involves licensing of technologies that were involved in the lawsuit – such as Universal Search, and slide to unlock. We also assume that it gives Apple access to HTC’s LTE patents. In any case, it does give HTC some freedom in designing some features for the HTC Sense UI and not create workarounds to emulate the same feature; and to have features that Samsung would love to put on their phones.

It’s clear why HTC wanted to settle – Apple could potentially block its new phones from sale. HTC has taken a hit in its revenue for the past year, so its clear that it needed to settle this as it really needed to sell phones and not have the looming prospect of the phones being blocked.

But what made Apple resolve the dispute? According to TechCrunch, Apple has not had much success in this lawsuit as it would hope, unlike the ones with Samsung. A UK court had ruled that four of its patents were not infringed, and a Delaware court ordered them to start settling the matter.

To me, it appears that the difference between Samsung and HTC is that Apple’s case against HTC is purely business – patent infringement. Its case against Samsung appears to be more about company pride – for them, they see Samsung as a copycat and their success was based off the hard work that Apple spent in designing a product.

Apple has had more success against Samsung, and the Korean phone maker has lost several high-profile cases this year – including in the United States and Germany. However, it did get some victories, including in Korea and in the UK. Apple is also involved in a patents war with Motorola.

However both Samsung and Motorola – which is now owned by Google – hold standard-essential patents; and are reportedly under investigation for not asking for a “fair and reasonable price” for their patents.

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