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November 19, 2012

Apple, Google Consider Arbitration in Patent War

Apple and Google may be on track to bury the hatchet — and not in one another’s backs.

The technology giants, who have been at war over patent issues, are said to be considering arbitration.

A recent court filing has uncovered the two sides have exchanged proposals about coming to an agreement on standard essential patents through arbitration.

“Apple’s goal has always been to find a mutual and transparent process to resolve this dispute on terms that are fair and reasonable and non-discriminatory without the threat or taint of exclusionary remedies,” writes Bruce Sewell, Apple’s senior vice-president and general counsel in a letter to Google Nov. 8. “Your offer to arbitrate made before Judge Crabb on Nov. 5 was, therefore, welcome news. We agree to arbitrate the value of mutual licenses to our respective SEP portfolios.”

Sewell’s letter received a favorable reception from Google.

“We appreciate your Nov. 8 letter responding to our offer for arbitration,” writes Kent Walker, SVP and General Counsel for Google. “As you know, we have long sought a path to resolving patent issues and we welcome the chance to build on the constructive dialogue between our companies.”

The letters were exchanged just days after Apple’s patent lawsuit against Google-owned Motorola Mobility was dismissed. The dismissal Nov. 5 came just hours before the trial was scheduled to commence.

The rivals were to duke it out in Wisconsin federal court in front of District Judge Barbara Crabb over what Apple claimed were unfair licensing practices.

In a lawsuit filed in 2011, Apple claimed Motorola was seeking a license fee of 2.25 percent of the price of devices that infringe on Motorola’s patents, including the iPhone and iPod Touch. Motorola standards obligate the company to offer licenses at “reasonable” rates.

Motorola recently dropped its complaint of patent violation against rival Apple without explanation.

According to Reuters, in a brief filing with the International Trade Commission on Oct. 1, Motorola Mobility said it “was dropping without prejudice a complaint that Apple had infringed on seven Motorola patents.”

The two firms were in settlement talks in August. Google said in its filing, however, it added that “there are no agreements between Motorola and Apple, written or oral, express or implied, concerning the subject matter of this investigation,” Reuters reported.

The complaint withdrawal could be a goodwill gesture, according to sources cited by AllThingsD.

Although there has been talk of arbitration, the companies must agree on terms before taking he next step.