Apple and Motorola Mobility discussed a patent licensing agreement in late 2011, according to Bloomberg.
The news outlet drew its information from a document issued by the European Commission, the European Unions antitrust body. From the information available to the Commission, this option envisaged a cross-license possibly to the benefit of all Android OEMs but also with mutual carve-outs, read a section of that document.
That section is fuzzier on whether the discussions between Apple and Motorola Mobility are continuing, or stalled over some key point. In the very specific context of the two companies' legal battle in Germany, the Commission suggested in the document that Google had given Motorola Mobility the go-ahead to engage in some sort of "commercially acceptable" settlement. But the outcome of talks over a broad global settlement remains unclear.
If that information proves accurate, it provides an interesting counterpoint of sorts to the two companies very public battles. In October 2010, Motorola sued Apple for allegedly violating its patents; a month later, Apple returned the favor with a lawsuit claiming that Motorola infringed on intellectual property related to multi-touch and other screen technologies.
Apples antagonism toward Motorola is part of its larger war against Google Android, which former CEO Steve Jobs felt stole key elements from iOS. In a meeting with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Jobs reportedly refused to accept any sort of Android-related payout. I dont want your money, he said, according to Walter Isaacsons best-selling biography of Jobs. If you offer me $5 billion, I wont want it. Ive got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, thats all I want.
Google moved to acquire Motorola in August 2011, in what many pundits saw as a bid to solidify its patent portfolio against outside attacks. However, that hasnt halted the legal back-and-forth between its new subsidiary and Cupertino, which carried on with the lawsuits even after Jobs death from cancer in October 2011.
In Germany, Apple recently won a victory over Motorola that allowed it to keep selling the iPhone and iPad online, having made an offer for patent-licensing terms that the court found agreeable. According to patent expert Florian Mueller, Motorola could turn down that potential agreement only at the risk of a potential antitrust violation, with penalties, from the European Commission.
Meanwhile, a federal judge in Chicago ruled March 5 that Motorola and Google must give Apple information relevant to the development of the Google Android operating system.
However Apple and Motorola eventually settle their issues in court, Android and iOS continue to battle for market supremacy in smartphones and tablets. Although Apples iPad handily dominates the tablet market, the iPhone faces a tougher battle against the ever-growing array of Android handsets on store shelves.