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Apple, HTC Reach Settlement Over Patent Disputes

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on November 13, 2012 9:58 AM

Apple and HTC have reached a settlement that's the first of its kind in the smartphone patent battle.

HTC, a Taiwanese company, was one of the first Android smartphone producers sued by Apple. Their feud started several years ago and, like the Samsung battle, it spread to include lawsuits all around the world.

It now appears all of those claims will be put to rest as part of a "global settlement" between Apple and HTC. The details are secret, but some of the facts are known.

The settlement includes a 10-year license agreement between the two companies. It allows each company to license any current or future patents belonging to the other, according to The Verge.

It also seems likely, though it hasn't been confirmed, that HTC provided some payout to Apple for HTC's alleged infringement.

Still, both companies appear satisfied with the results, and HTC claims the settlement will not have a serious impact on the company's finances.

The settlement has resolved the disputes between Apple and HTC, but it doesn't necessarily mean anything for Apple's other disputes with Android makers.

Under Steve Jobs, Apple was aggressive in protecting its patents through litigation rather than negotiation. He famously described the dispute between Apple and Android as a "thermonuclear legal war," according to The New York Times.

But his successor, Tim Cook, may not be as interested in spending the time and money needed for litigation.

If companies can reach agreements about patent issues without going through litigation, that means more time, effort, and money for development. They can focus on patents for new ideas instead of fighting over old ones. More cross-licensing of patents could also lead to better innovation across the field.

Still, companies that think patent giants like Apple will now settle every case could be in for a nasty shock. It's too soon to tell whether this one settlement is good news for other players in the smartphone industry.

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