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Google, China's biggest tech firm sign patent-sharing deal

The search giant and Tencent will share patents covering a range of products and technologies.

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California

Google has reached an agreement with China's biggest tech firm to share patents covering a range of products and technologies, according to a new report on Friday.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Two of the world's biggest tech companies have reached a deal to collaborate more closely.

Google and Tencent, China's biggest tech company, have agreed to share patents across a range of products and technologies, Bloomberg reported Friday. Tencent owns China's most popular messaging app, WeChat, and one of China's hottest games, Honour of Kings.

The cross-licensing deal between the tech mammoths is expected to ease Google's path of re-entry to China where most of its services have been blocked for years, as well as help with Tencent's bid to expand outside its home country. Google withdrew its search engine and related services from China back in 2010 when it decided it would no longer follow the censorship requirements of China's government.

Google has been slowly expanding its presence in China over the past year. In March, Google released a new version of its Translate app there. In December, Google said it would open an artificial intelligence lab in China and quietly set up a new office in Shenzhen.

Meanwhile, Tencent is trying to push beyond China. In December, it released Arena of Valor outside the mainland. The game, launched in the US, is a localized, English version of Honour of Kings. The latter boasts more than 200 million registered users and held the top spot in Apple's Chinese App Store for close to a year. Arena of Valor features DC superheroes to cater to a US audience.

The patent-sharing deal is not the first of its kind for Google. The company signed a similar agreement with Samsung in 2014 to cover existing patents and those filed over the next decade. The search giant also signed an agreement with HTC in September to tap into its talents to develop Pixel phones.

Mike Lee, Google's head of patents, and Sam Xu, Tencent's head of intellectual property, said in an emailed statement to CNET that they are "pleased" with the collaboration, noting that it will allow their companies to focus on building "better products and services" for consumers.

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