Motorola and Apple reach patent licensing agreement in Germany

In addition to its worldwide patent battle with Samsung, Apple has also locked horns with Motorola in courtrooms around the globe. It’s a familiar scenario: Apple has accused Motorola of stealing its innovations, and Motorola has used its large collection of wireless patents to fight back.

Motorola has actually won a handful of notable victories in the battle, mostly in Germany, successfully winning bans on products and knocking iCloud email push offline. But it looks like the two sides have called a ceasefire, as they’ve just reached a major patent license agreement…

Patent expert Florian Mueller reports:

“In a filing made late on Monday (August 27, 2012) with the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, the Google subsidiary has now confirmed the recent conclusion of a standard-essential patent license agreement with Apple. Under the agreement, Apple is now licensed to use some if not all of Motorola’s standard-essential patents in Germany, though the parties have not yet agreed on a FRAND royalty rate, which will ultimately have to be set by German courts unless they agree on a rate prior to its judicial determination.”

Standards essential patents generally pertain to core-technology needed for a device to function properly. It’s like an engine for a car, or a transmission, and since Apple hasn’t been making cell phones for the last 30 years, it doesn’t have a whole lot of these patents on-hand.

But Motorola does. And it’s been using them in patent infringement suits against Apple, Microsoft and other companies for years. So it’s pretty interesting that it’s decided to license them out to Apple — especially since the two sides are still going at it in other countries.

Motorola has recently lodged a handful of pretty serious complaints with the ITC against Apple that could see some of their 3G products banned from the US. So while we’d like to think that the patent licensing gesture is a step toward peace talks, we aren’t going to hold our breath.