Apple’s Cook, Google’s Page talk patents, report says

August 30, 2012

Chief executives from Apple and Google are reportedly talking about patent disputes between their companies, according to a report from Reuters.

Apple’s Tim Cook and Google’s Larry Page have reportedly spoken on the phone about patent matters, the report said, and discussions between the executives further down the ranks are “ongoing.”

If Cook and Page are talking about patents, it could signal an early end to the software patent battles smartphone makers are waging around the world over intellectual property.

The news comes less than a week after a jury ruled that prominent Android handset maker Samsung owed Apple over $1 billion in damages for patent infringement. Following that decision, Google issued a statement partially distancing itself from the case by pointing out that most of the patents at issue “don’t relate to the core Android operating system.”

In his book, “Steve Jobs,” Walter Isaacson wrote that the late Apple co-founder was furious when the Android system was announced, calling it a stolen product.

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” he told Isaacson. “I’m going to destroy Android. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

Cook, who took over Apple a little over a year ago, may have a slightly different take on the smartphone suits. He told analysts in an earnings call this spring that he “hates litigation,” but that Apple needs to protect its intellectual property.

Google and Apple, of course, have a long and complicated history — particularly when it comes to mobile operating systems. The two companies were friends for years, with Google chairman Eric Schmidt sitting on Apple’s board, but fell out dramatically once Google introduced Android.

Since then, the companies have continued to drift apart, most notably with Apple’s decision to create its own mapping program to replace Google Maps on the iPhone, as well as its announcement that it will no longer include Google-owned YouTube as a pre-loaded iPhone app.

Related stories:

Ideas@Innovations: Why Apple needs to lose the Samsung appeal

Apple v. Samsung: One patent puts industry in a pinch

Samsung shares fall after Apple verdict; Google offers its two cents

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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