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Google and Apple explore arbitration to solve standards patent problems

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Apple broke from its aggressive legal strategy when it recently reached a settlement with HTC, and it appears the company may be ready to take a similar approach with its rival Google. Apple had been prepared to go to trial in a patent dispute with Google-owned Motorola earlier this year before the suit was thrown out — but new documents show that both companies are now interested in resolving some of their disagreements via arbitration instead. At issue are standards-essential patents — patents that have been incorporated into larger industry standards, such as 802.11 Wi-Fi or elements of the 3GPP standard — that the patent owner has agreed to license under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

According to the filing, Google broached the subject of arbitration in court on November 5th. Apple contacted Google about the idea days later, suggesting that they both stand down all legal proceedings in connection with the patents and pursue arbitration. While Apple and Google appear to be largely united in how they would like things to proceed, they emails indicate that they do have differences when it comes to details such as scheduling and the reach the arbitration would have. However, the fact that they are discussing the topic at all is a promising sign for those that have grown weary of constant legal wrangling.