Google Inc. wants peace in our time when it comes to Android-related patents, introducing a new program called PAX that seeks to reduce patent litigation.
The program allows Android device makers to share royalty-free licenses to any Android-related patents held by other members of the group. PAX, which comes from the Latin word for peace but is said to be a shortened version of Android Networked Cross-License Agreement, is described as a community-driven clearinghouse that ensures “that innovation and consumer choice — not patent threats — will continue to be key drivers of our Android ecosystem.”
At its inception, joining Google in the program are Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, LG Electronics Inc., HTC Corp., Foxconn (Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd.), HMD Global Oy (the company who now owns the Nokia brand), Coolpad Group Ltd., Spanish phone maker BQ (Mundo Reader S.L.), and Allview Electronics SP. Z O.O., an Android device maker from Romania, with the members collectively owning more than 230,000 patents worldwide.
“We believe PAX will further expand the openness of Android for its members, promoting patent peace that will free up time and money for members, who can then dedicate those resources to creating new ideas,” Google said in a blog post.
Patent licensing has been an ongoing battle for many mobile device makers, with various cases over the years ranging from Microsoft Corp. suing Samsung, Microsoft suing Google over the cost of licensing patents, Apple Inc. suing (in no particular order) Samsung, Qualcomm Technologies Inc. and HTC, and Samsung suing Apple. There have been so many patent-related legal cases that the subject even has its own Wikipedia page under the heading “Smartphone patent wars.”
Google’s new PAX program won’t stop non-Android device makers from suing Android device makers, but it will bring a certain level of stability to the Android ecosystem in that companies operating within it will now be able to use technologies that are otherwise patented by other members of the group.
“As more companies join, PAX will bring even more patent peace and value to its members through more freedom to innovate,” Google noted.