Google, Cisco sign deal to avoid future patent squabbles

The new patent cross-licensing agreement is designed to protect both companies from patent lawsuits.

Google's Nexus 5.
Google's Nexus 5. Josh MIller/CNET

Google and Cisco have formed a new agreement to ward off potential patent trolls.

The agreement gives each company a license to the other's patent portfolio and covers a wide range of products and technologies, Cisco said in a news release on Tuesday. The deal was set up as a countermeasure to the act of "patent privateering," which transfers patents to so-called patent assertion firms.

Some holders of patented products try to avoid legal battles by signing deals with patent assertion firms that file lawsuits in their own names, The Wall Street Journal explained. These assertion firms profit from the suits and then share the proceeds with the patent holder. In the unlikely event that Google or Cisco tried to sell any patents to such firms, the patents covered by the cross-licensing agreement would be off limits.

"Our agreement with Cisco will reduce the potential for litigation, letting us focus instead on building great new products," Allen Lo, Google's deputy general counsel for Patents, said in a statement. "We're pleased to enter into this cross-license, and we welcome discussions with any company interested in a similar arrangement."

Last month, Google signed a patent cross-licensing deal with Samsung.

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