The first shot in the patent fights between Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) was fired in 2010 by Motorola before it was acquired by Google for $12.5 billion. Motorola’s patents were the object of desire, and those patents did give Google some insulation against legal attacks from Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT).
In a settlement announced on Friday, Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss the existing lawsuits between the two companies, but they did not announce a cross-licensing agreement that in theory would have prevented any future legal skirmishing.
One wonders if the late Steve Jobs would have been so generous. Here is his famous statement on Android and Google:
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. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.
And Jobs had no intention of settling, telling then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt, “I don’t want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I don’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want.”
Perhaps the jury verdict in Apple’s $2 billion lawsuit against Samsung Electronics changed the company’s mind. The $112 million award was literally peanuts compared with Apple’s demands, and the company likely concluded that it has already dribbled away that much and more on patent litigation. It is not too much to conclude that Apple blinked.