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Apple, Motorola strike licensing deal -- but only in Germany

The companies are near a licensing deal with the rate set by a German court. The legal battle rages on elsewhere though.

Apple and Motorola Mobility are close to a licensing deal in Germany, thanks in part to the ruling of a local court.

Motorola, a unit of Google, disclosed late Monday that the company had reached a tentative agreement to license out its essential patents to Apple. Patent law blog Foss Patents was the first to discover the disclosure.

CNET confirmed that the companies are going through the process of determining a fair and reasonable rate for the essential patents, which will be set by the German court. The rate is for a royalty Apple must pay to Motorola for products sold in Germany only.

Essential patents, which are core to a shared technology standard, must be licensed under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms, also known in the legal world as FRAND. Motorola had argued that Apple had violated its essential patents, while Apple argued that Motorola hadn't offered a fair rate.

That doesn't bode well for Google and Motorola, as essential patents have proven to be a weak defense. Samsung Electronics threw up several essential patents in its case against Apple in San Jose, Calf., and the jury ruled Apple hadn't infringed on them.

Motorola Mobility and Google declined to comment, noting the process was still ongoing. CNET contacted Apple for comment, and we'll update the story when the company responds.

Still, Google has a large stockpile of Motorola patents to use against Apple. But it's unclear how valuable or useful they are. The company said it is still poring through them now.

As this only affects Germany, the broader legal battle continues between the two. Motorola hit Apple with a patent suit earlier this month seeking to block several Apple products. The U.S. International Trade Commission also offered a mixed ruling against the two last week.