After trading blows in courts around the world, Apple and HTC have announced a settlement that resolves all of their patent disputes. The agreement is a "global settlement" that dismisses all of Apple and HTC's complaints under a 10-year license agreement, which covers current and future patents held by each company. In a joint press release, the companies say that the terms of the settlement are confidential — but HTC representative Jeff Gordon tells The Verge that the company "does not expect this license agreement to have any adverse material impact on the financials of the company" (in other words, the deal won't cost HTC a huge amount of money). The agreement is a big deal for both companies — Apple was not ready to make a big cross license deal in its legal disputes with Samsung, and HTC was the only company besides Samsung that faced an injunction from the US International Trade Commission.
The announcement is a surprise. Despite a Delaware court's order back in May for the companies to discuss a potential settlement, there haven't been any signs of progress: HTC chairwoman Cher Wang said in August that the company had no plans to settle its ongoing litigation with Apple, even in the face of the company's massive victory over Samsung. The patent dispute between the companies began back in 2010, and HTC was burned earlier this year when its One X and Evo 4G LTE devices were indefinitely delayed at US Customs as a result of an ITC ban. HTC created a workaround to the infringing patents, and eventually saw the customs ban lifted on its products, but the workaround design was questionable and had yet to be decided by the ITC. The settlement now allows HTC to use slide to unlock, universal search, and other disputed features that will continue to be unavailable to Samsung.
"We will continue to stay laser focused on product innovation."
The settlement notice includes brief statements from each company's CEO. HTC chief executive Peter Chou says that "HTC is pleased to have resolved its dispute with Apple, so HTC can focus on innovation instead of litigation." Apple CEO Tim Cook says "we are glad to have reached a settlement with HTC," and that "we will continue to stay laser focused on product innovation."
Nilay Patel and Matt Macari contributed to this report.