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Apple extends olive branch to Motorola, Samsung?

Apple has indicated a willingness to cut licensing deals with its competitors, according to the Dow Jones Newswires. That would end a tidal wave of lawsuits around the world.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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  • SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
Roger Cheng
2 min read
Could the end to patent litigation be over? Apple

Could an end to the litigation between Apple and its rivals be in sight?

Apple, for its part, may be looking to resolve its various lawsuits, and has signaled a willingness to cut licensing deals with Samsung Electronics and Motorola Mobility, the Dow Jones Newswires reported today, citing anonymous sources.

A licensing deal would put to an end an ugly and distracting period where smartphone companies have been going after each other both in the marketplace and in the courtroom. Apple had begun its legal offensive against Android vendor roughly two years ago in a bid to halt the momentum of the operating system and to extract a penalty for what it felt was the infringement of key smartphone features.

The news comes after Apple has suffered through a series of court rulings with mixed results. With one lawsuits after another getting filed by Apple and its competitors, there doesn't appear to be any resolution to the fighting.

Apple and Samsung weren't immediately available to comment to CNET. Motorola declined to comment, but a spokeswoman noted that the company is open to licensing deals.

The collection of minor victories and defeats--which only add to the pressure to keep the litigation going--has Apple considering a different tactic in legal settlements, Dow Jones Newswires reported. Apple is more amenable to a resolution now because of the widespread proliferation of Android, making a ban difficult to enforce.

HTC, for instance, was found guilty of infringing on one of Apple's patents, but the U.S. International Trade Commission gave HTC time to remove the infringing technology and use a technical solution that gets around the patent.

Apple has largely gone after Google's vendor partner, as opposed to Google itself. But that changes later this year once Google completes its acquisition of Motorola, which is stocked with 17,500 patents and 6,500 pending applications.

That Apple is willing to strike a licensing deal isn't new. Apple had previously offered to license its technology to Samsung, and has licensing agreements with Nokia and IBM.

Apple is asking for $5 to $15 per handset for some of its patents, Dow Jones Newswires reported, which equates to 1 percent to 2.5 percent of the net sales for the device. The report noted that Motorola has been criticized for asking for 2.25 percent of net sales.

Ideally, Apple would prefer to hold out until it scores a major legal victory--one that would ban a company's Android products from a major market and force a company to settle. But with the pace of the ligation and number of lawsuits piling up in different countries, the company could wait a long time--if ever--for such an outcome.

Updated at 12:27 p.m. PT: to change the percentage that Motorola was seeking for a licensing agreement, which was updated in the Dow Jones Newswires report.