Google’s Android OS is a minefield when it comes to potential legal troubles between manufacturers. That’s why today, Google has announced a new patent cross-licensing partnership with eight major Android manufacturers.
The Android Networked Cross-License Agreement is referred to as ‘PAX’ by Google, essentially the Latin word for peace, and when it comes to legal filings, peace is what we all want.
Under the PAX agreement, the manufacturers signed on to PAX, who include Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Foxconn Technology Group, HMD Global, HTC, Coolpad, BQ, Allview and of course Google themselves.
Collectively, the members of PAX own a staggering 230,000 patents worldwide. It’s from this pool of patents, although obviously not all of these will cover Android and Google Applications, that the PAX agreement will allow signatories to PAX access to royalty-free community patent cross-licenses covering Android and Google Applications preinstalled on devices that meet Android’s compatibility requirements.
PAX is about maintaining an ‘Open’ Android eco-system, at least according to Google. Google is indeed encouraging interested companies, large and small, around the world to join PAX and enjoy what Google calls ‘patent peace’.
One of the main sources of public patent litigation has of course been between Android manufacturers and Apple, though this has been quiet of late. Samsung and Apple resolved all their litigation bar one case in the US, which is still ongoing, in 2014. Whether this stronger portfolio of patents prevents further litigation will have to wait until someone tests it.
A number of large players in the Android eco-system with large patent portfolios including Huawei are notably absent from the PAX partnership. We’ll be watching for more on PAX in the coming months.