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Apple, Google announce truce over smartphone patent litigation

Analysts had warned that consumers would bear the brunt of costly and protracted legal action

Tech giants Apple and Google have announced the end of a bitter and protracted courtroom battle, agreeing to dismiss tit-for-tat patent lawsuits over the ownership of smartphone technology.

The laying down of legal arms between the iPhone maker and Google’s Motorola unit comes after a series of patent infringement claims which analysts said could cost consumers and stymie competition and innovation. Instead the two parties intend on working together on copyright reform in the tech sector.

“Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies," a joint statement sent to Al Jazeera by a Google spokesman said.

"Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform. The agreement does not include a cross license.”

Apple and companies that make phones using Google's Android software have filed dozens of such lawsuits against each other around the world to protect what they claim to be their technology. Apple had argued that Android phones using Google software had copied features from its iPhones.

The two companies informed a federal appeals court in Washington that the cases should be dismissed, according to filings on Friday. However, the deal does not appear to apply to Apple's litigation against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, as no dismissal notices were filed in those cases.

Experts had warned that the litigation would lead to more expensive smartphones and devices, and could also lead to a slower pace of innovation for mobile devices.

"The most direct effect of this patent fight on consumers would be if the judge blocked one of these popular phones from the market," Rutgers Law School professor Michael A. Carrier said amid hearings in early April.

The most high-profile legal case between Apple and Motorola began in 2010. Motorola accused Apple of infringing several patents, including one essential to how cell phones operate on a 3G network, while Apple said Motorola violated its patents on certain smartphone features.

The cases were consolidated in a Chicago federal court. However, Judge Richard Posner dismissed it in 2012 shortly before trial, saying neither company had sufficient evidence to prove its case.

Last month, the appeals court gave the iPhone manufacturer another chance to win a sales ban against its competitor.

Google acquired Motorola Mobility in 2012 for $12.5 billion. Earlier this year, it announced an intention to sell Motorola Mobility's handset business to Lenovo, while keeping the vast majority of the patents.

Al Jazeera and Reuters

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