The CEOs of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) have been holding private — and so far, secret — conversations on a range of intellectual property issues, and including the current dispute over mobile technology patents, according to an exclusive report at Reuters.
Citing unnamed sources, Reuters said that Google’s Larry Page and Apple’s Tim Cook had a telephone conversation last week. Discussions between the two companies’ lower-level staff are also ongoing.
According to Reuters:
Page and Cook are expected to talk again in the coming weeks, though no firm date has been set, the sources said. One source told Reuters that a meeting was scheduled for this Friday, but had been delayed for reasons that were unclear.
That the two CEOs are talking should be no huge surprise. Even though the late Steve Jobs declared “thermonuclear war” over mobile patents, the interests of both Apple and Google would be better served by a negotiated truce involving cross-licensing of patents. Apple’s court victory over Samsung last week was just a skirmish, not a decisive battle, and there’s a reasonable chance that Samsung will prevail on appeal.
As the Reuters story points out, the two companies could agree to cross-license basic technology and the only question is where to draw the line. A broader settlement might also be possible.
Another interesting question is where Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) fits into the picture. Microsoft already collects licensing fees from mobile phone makers based on technology that the company says is part of Google’s Android operating system. In fact, Microsoft is believed to rake in more revenue from these licensing fees than it does from sales of its own mobile operating systems.
Apple and Google will eventually kiss and make up. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.