Apple Considered Licensing Deals With Some Patent Adversaries

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Apparently, Apple’s not all about litigation when it comes to its patents: it was reported Tuesday that the company contemplated making deals with its adversaries. People familiar with the situation say Apple considered licensing the disputed technologies that are used by Motorola Mobility (now owned by Google) and Samsung in their Android mobile phones.

This is not a new tactic, since at least one court document refers to discussions with Samsung before filing the lawsuit, and it may be an ongoing effort.

Apple isn’t changing its ways and offering deals to all its competitors instead of meeting them in court, however; according to, unnamed people close to the situation indicated that Apple had offered proposals for royalty payments, and a few other things, in exchange for settling some of the lawsuits. It appears, at the present time, that the offers were not taken up.

The royalty rate that Apple had proposed would have amounted to $5-$15 per handset, which is about 1 percent to 2.5 percent of the retail price. Royalty rates of 2.5 percent of the retail price were recently put forward by Motorola Mobility (MMI) for use of its patents and it was roundly condemned for that amount.

It should be noted, however, that MMI’s demands were for essential standards patents subject to fair and reasonable, non-discriminatory rates (FRAND), whereas Apple’s patents are not.

With some recent court victories, and a few setbacks, and an ongoing stream of lawsuits, licensing agreements seem to be a little out of the norm for Apple. Steve Jobs was opposed to cooperating with Android. And Apple’s cash and market positions seem to lessen the incentive to make deals.

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