Microsoft and Google announced that they have settled there global patent disputes, including the litigation underlying the FRAND dispute that gave rise to Judge Robart’s first-of-its-kind decision on determining a FRAND royalty that was recently affirmed on appeal at the Ninth Circuit (see our July 31, 2015 post). Accordingly, the parties filed yesterday a stipulated motion to dismiss the remainder of the case still pending before Judge Robart.
The agreement between the parties is said to resolve about 20 lawsuits in the U.S. and abroad, so its not clear how much the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in the Judge Robart case impacted the settlement. The settlement, however, was announced after the Ninth Circuit denied the petition for rehearing of its decision and its mandate issued without a party seeking further review from the Supreme Court. So this decision may provide another example of a court’s determination of the royalty amount leading to resolution of the litigation without the parties or the court litigating the issue whether the patent is valid and infringed, as occurred in the Innovatio litigation before Judge Holderman under his “reverse bifurcation” procedure (see our Feb. 7, 2014 post on Innovatio).
Recall that Google inherited the Judge Robart case when it acquired Motorola Mobility, including its patent portfolio and mobile phone business, the latter of which Google later sold to Lenovo while holding onto the patents. Google’s business model is much different from the Motorola Mobility entity it acquired, which had been actively enforcing its patent portfolio against Microsoft and others before the acquisition. Google may value and use the patents differently than Motorola had been, such as using for defensive purposes if someone targets Google’s Android platform. Recall that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation of Google a few years ago shifted to Motorola’s assertion of standard essential patents (SEPs) after Google acquired Motorola, which led to Google/Motorola entering a consent decree with the FTC (see our January 2013 post). Google also ended patent litigation disputes that Motorola had with Apple, which also included SEPs (see our May 19, 2014 post). So Google’s settlement with Microsoft here is not too surprising.