back to article A real life Romulan-Klingon alliance: Google, Samsung sign global patent pact

Google and Samsung have strengthened their positions in the Great Patent Wars against Apple by signing a global cross-licensing deal with each other. The Android buddies have agreed to license any and all current IP as well as any patents filed in the next 10 years with each other for undisclosed financial terms. The firms …


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  1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Bonus points to el Reg for the Star Trek: TOS reference!

    Ah, those heady days when Klingons looked kind of Asian, and Romulans also looked kind of Asian....

    As for the partnership, it makes sense that Samsung and Google would support eachother, considering their importance to eachother in the mobile phone biz. Anything that might POSSIBLY reduce the amount of litigation gets a thumbs-up from me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bonus points to el Reg for the Star Trek: TOS reference!

      It is indeed nice to see a reference to TOS.

      Interesting, however, that they should choose to equate Google and Samsung with two of mankinds greatest enemies!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bonus points to el Reg for the Star Trek: TOS reference!

      Borg / Romulan alliance surely?

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: Bonus points to el Reg for the Star Trek: TOS reference!

        Borg/Dominion! But I guess that would be Apple and Facebook.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bonus points to el Reg for the Star Trek: TOS reference!

          The Borg is certainly a good synonym for Google - They assimilate everything for sure...and then use it to send you adverts...

    3. dssf

      Re: Bonus points to el Reg for the Star Trek: TOS reference! KAPLAH!



      Funny... This reminds me of a friend I had in 2004. He is from Japan. Back in 04/05/06 timeframe, lots of baseball players or teen/early 20's youth were into shaving off their eyebrows, royally perturbing one of the majors, who rooted around trying to get a law passed or something to curtail that brow-shaving.

      My friend, of whom I shot a photo in Tokyo in Dec of that year, had on some grey-ish coat. Retroactively, like years later, when I looked at the coat, his hair, and his long, Vulcan-like brows, I could not help but chuckle that he looked as if he beamed down from a ship operated by the Tal Shiar, or maybe like he stepped from the chambers of the Romulan Senate.

      No, sorry, I cannot share the photo. Wouldn't want it going viral and having him feel mocked in some weird, murky, 'merkun way. He might curse me...

      Cham-che-chami-chek! (Gowron: You swear WELL in Klingon, Picard...)

  2. Steve Todd Silver badge

    Ok, you've lost me

    How does a cross-licensing deal between Samsung and Google strengthen either's position against Apple? They are only licensed to use each other's patents, not to use said patents against Apple. The licensing deal doesn't change wether or not Apple devices infringe any of the patents. It doesn't change the argument over SEP patents and FRAND. What changes?

    1. jai

      Re: Ok, you've lost me

      maybe it means that neither need to worry about being sued by each other, and so just need to worry about suits with everyone else. One less team of lawyers to pay for on each side.

    2. Nextweek

      Re: Ok, you've lost me

      Quite simply, if someone went after them, they have a larger selection of patents to use to defend themselves. The South Korean firm can claim its not infringing one American company but its actually using the intellectual property of another. Anybody attacking Samsung also runs the risk of extra costs of dragging Google into the fray.

      Its not much of a deterrent but as we all know patents are just a numbers game, it has very little to do with innovation.

      1. Steve Todd Silver badge

        Re: Ok, you've lost me @nextweek

        No, they can't use patents that they only license this way. You have to own a patent in order to be able to assert it in court. The deal gives neither side any more ammunition in the patent war with Apple.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: Ok, you've lost me @nextweek

          There are big advantages for both parties.

          In most patent licensing arrangements, the patent owner agrees to provide resources to defend the licensee from cease & desist and infringement suits.

          In an openly defensive move like this, obviously designed to defend against a specific threat (Apple in this case) you'll often find a sliding scale style of arrangement where more and more of defensive costs are moved to the licensee, but the total dollar amount budgeted for the case is double.

          It's an effective mechanism for providing double the litigious fun. The costs incurred in such an arrangement can be booked as a licensing issue, not a strictly 'legal department' issue, and as such have a different effect on the financials of both defending companies. It's a bit of bookkeeping voodoo, but it's a legitimate practice.

          Such arrangements usually share, on the same sliding scale as defensive costs, the costs of offensive countersuits with any resultant awards split in proportions that reflect each parties investment. Again, a bit of financial voodoo. The hoped for funds from offensive efforts are booked as offsets to the defensive costs and until there is a definitive resolution to all the the related suits, each company has 'officially' spent zero, or close to it, money.

          There are other advantages to these deals as well. The views of a partners legal team are just as useful as an outside team looking at anything, it's a extra set of competent eyes. But the biggest advantages are how the costs of legal defense and contractual defense can be booked in different ways that allow you to forestall any required disclosures that could negatively impact your financials.

          Why do you think IP cases drag on so long? It's because you often don't have to reflect the financial impacts until it's settled :)

    3. auburnman

      Re: Ok, you've lost me

      The unspoken implication is that you are walking into a war on two fronts if you attempt to sue either of them. I could see Google finding something to sue Apple over & Samsung dragging Microsoft to Court if those two don't start playing nice. They could well attract additional partners with the strength of their alliance, If another big name company with a war chest of dollars and patents were to join them I'd be very surprised if the lawsuits didn't start waning.

    4. NumptyScrub

      Re: Ok, you've lost me

      quote: "How does a cross-licensing deal between Samsung and Google strengthen either's position against Apple? They are only licensed to use each other's patents, not to use said patents against Apple. The licensing deal doesn't change wether or not Apple devices infringe any of the patents. It doesn't change the argument over SEP patents and FRAND. What changes?"

      It gives Samsung the opportunity to claim that any disputed functionality is in fact licensed from Google patent X rather than infringing Apple patent Y.

      Recent advances in patent litigation have shown that there could be more checks done by the USPTO prior to granting a patent, so it should come as no surprise that there may be several functionality patents that cover very similar areas, held by more than one company. Should any of the disputed functionality be (mostly) covered by an existing (badly checked) Google patent, it may be possible to argue this successfully in court to attempt to get claims made by Apple thrown out.

      e.g. if Google have a "swipe to unlock" patent to go with Apple's "slide to unlock" patent, it would be trivial to claim that the functionality present in Samsung devices is based upon the Google process rather than Apple's, and thus completely legitimate.

      Note that the actual validity of either patent becomes relevant in this case; it would force the courts to assess the patents on their own merits rather than simply assess whether the functionality matches the patent (and ignore whther the patent should have been granted in the first place). I'd call that a win, personally ;)

  3. cyke1

    Worst attempt at a reference i have ever seen. That reference would be more fitting if it was Google and Apple making a deal or Samsung and Apple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ... or Samsung and Apple

      Samsung tried that, Apple didn't want to know.

      1. Roger Stenning

        Hardly a surprise...

        ...for all their public comments over the last few years, the fruit firm appears, instead, to be intent on world domination and mind control. Just look at how their fanbois carp on and froth at the mouth, and you'll see how pavlovian things can get ;-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hardly a surprise...

          and yet yours is the first comment to mention fanbois. there hasn't been any carping on yet.

          you might want to take a look in the mirror and check for fur before throwing about pavlovian references. are you sure it's not you that's been conditioned to spew anti-Appleisms as you hear the ringing of the bell in your mind as soon as you read the word "Apple"?

          1. Roger Stenning

            Re: Hardly a surprise...

            Yea, verily, the troll icon did its' work *smirk*

        2. cbars Silver badge

          Re: Hardly a surprise...


          I quite often froth at the mouth when I see that meringue based wonder!

        3. JLV

          Re: Hardly a surprise...

          Oh, toss off, willya?

          I welcome this development. Apple needs to compete on tech, price and... marketing too, necessary evil.

          Not on patents. In general, patents have become progressively disconnected from their initial intent to reward original thinking. And nowhere more so than in the world of "rounded corners".

          I have bought Apple products in the past and will continue to do so as long as they suit _me_, technically and price-wise. When there is an alternative _I_ perceive to be advantageous, I'll take it. Starting with my next phone. Apple is certainly not attracting my goodwill with its litigious behavior.

          Sticking it to Apple on the patent front is 110% OK by me. Ditto forcing their prices down and forcing them back to the innovation drawing board.

          The world is thankfully not entirely full of black&white blinkered fools as yourself. Be they for or against Apple.

          Kudos to Samsung & Google on this :-)

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


        The terms that Samsung offered weren't to Apple's liking. Who knows apart from the teams of lawyers trying to get one over on the other lot. Corporate Lawyers tend to have even bigger ego's than their clients.

        now that De judge has ordered them to get together we may see an agreement.

  4. Turtle

    And if, in the event...

    And if, in the event that Samsung ditches Android in favor of a different OS (such as TIzen, for example) then what provisions does this cross-licensing agreement have? Is the agreement only good for Samsung devices running Android or would Samsung be liable for patent-infringement if they use Google IP in a non-Android device?

    1. Rob

      Re: And if, in the event...

      Perhaps this deal allows Samsung to develop Tizen without any patent problems from Google but still gives Samsung an open door on Android should Tizen not work out?

      1. Zola

        Re: And if, in the event...

        Perhaps this deal allows Samsung to develop Tizen

        More likely this deal is the death knell for Tizen, which could/should be taken out back and put out of its misery. It has served it's purpose, which was to put the frightners on Google, and with Samsung now having gained a 10-year licence to future Google technology it is needed no more.

  5. M7S
    Big Brother

    Sharing Intellectual Property....

    Given that Google (and many other companies) regard information held on us as their property, does that mean the reporting back to the mothership that my Samsung "smart" TV does (or would do it if was actually connected) will be added to Google's "database of everything" or possibly vice versa?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like a pretty desperate move by Samsung - jump into bed with Google (the only people winning from Android in the long term) to try and stem off infridgement claims from Apple. If anything they add credence to those claims and I'm sure this will only be valid from now onwards - i.e. if Samsung infringed a patent that this deal may have helped them defend against it would not protect them for the period they infringed before.

    Bit late as well now that Samsung are looking like they have peaked and are on their way down - Google must be laughing as now Motorola (their own phone division) will inherit a load of Samsung IP.

    1. Alex Rose

      "Sounds like a pretty desperate move by Samsung - jump into bed with Google (the only people winning from Android in the long term) to try and stem off infridgement claims from Apple."

      I suspect it will be a cold day in hell before that happens!

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      you forgot

      The Microsoft Tax on each and every android device.

      Google are not the only winners here.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: you forgot

        "The Microsoft Tax on each and every android device."

        It's a Nokia and an Apple tax too - and maybe an Oracle one soon as well - Google stole lots of features of Android from other companies...

  7. TRT Silver badge

    The Romulans got warp technology off the Klingons? And then didn't use it? Have you a source, as I thought Klingon and Federation (including Vulcan) warp technology was based on channelling a matter/anti-matter reaction through the extra-dimensional matrix of a dilithium crystal, whereas Romulan warp drive was based on using a quantum singularity to achieve a similar space-time curve distortion.

    1. vmistery

      I cannot upvote you enough. When will the reg learn to stick to the facts. ;-)

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      According to the kind of people who write large posts on Klingon--Romulan relations on the Internet:

      "According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Journal, the Romulan cloaking device was acquired by the Klingons as an exchange for several D7-class battle cruisers for the Romulans during the Alliance. In fact according to apocryphal accounts, in Seven Deadly Sins, Romulans required the power system of the D7-class ships to provide the power required to use the new improved cloaking device. "

      See: this site

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I believe the Romulans actually got D7-class battlecruisers, not warp technology.

      I seem to recall that this was worked into an episode of TOS when the original Romulan ship model had gone AWOL... they decided to substitute the Klingon D7 model rather than build a new Romulan one and altered the script slightly to have Spock refer to having received intelligence about the treaty.

      The lengths people will go to, just to get out of a bit of work!

      1. g e


        We've just been watching all the old Trek (amazing how watchable that stuff still is after nearly 50 years) and I remember an episode (The Enterprise Incident?) where Kirk pretends to go bonkers, crosses through the Neutral Zone into Romulan territory and gets nabbed by the Rommies on purpose so they can get their hands on the cloaking tech they didn't want the Romulans, seemingly, getting from the Klingons...

        The Klingons had already used cloaking many episodes earlier.

        In TNG, certainly, the Rommies used singularities to power their shizzle, though those Warbirds are of a significantly different class to those in TOS.

  8. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Warp and cloak?

    I prefer SEP field and bistromathics alternatives

    Mine is the one with "Life, the Universe, and Everything" in the pocket

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More Rebel Alliance partnering with Jedi vs the Empire/Dark-Side than Romulan-Klingons.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple ...

    ... has no honour! *spit*

  11. jnffarrell1

    False Analogy

    Fishing anology is better. Recently, the preferred venue for trolling is EastTX, which is at the center of Bass fishing tournaments. Like fishing guides, IP aggregators have been trolling flimsy but shiny spinning lures past judges that bite. Now that Google and Samsung have hardened their mouthpieces with common patents, they are more like Tarpon.

    Trolls now have three options: find another lake, bait their hooks with lumps of cornmeal and fish for bottom feeders, or give up their formerly lucrative hobby and get a day job.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: False Analogy

      The geographical nature of the preferences shown in IP suits is a huge problem in itself. Ignoring the obvious handicap resulting simply from being in Texas, being able to choose your court for matters of national and global implications is flat wrong.

      Federal laws, such as those dealing with IP, are Federal laws because they are applied the same everywhere in the nation. A preference for a certain court for certain matters implies that the law is not being applied the same everywhere and that can't stand.

      If you were a franchise operator, of a McDonalds say, and you had drawn national attention to your franchise by offering cheeseburgers with a lower kangaroo meat content that that of all other McDonalds in that country you would lose your franchise and be on the hook for huge fines for 'sullying' the McDonalds name as well as suits by individual customers who paid for a McDonalds burger but got a MacDowells burger. If anyone was made ill or dead by your substandard burger you could be facing criminal charges as well.

      Federal law is exactly the same as a national franchise business. It is consistent wherever you go within that county. The only difference is that a handsy clown who hangs out with an giant egg plant can manage absolutely consistent operations across thousands and thousands of locations an the Federal government can't do it with a handful of courts.

  12. vmistery

    I wonder if they opened a barrel of bloodwine... as we all know Romulan Ale is illegal.

  13. Fihart

    Return to vanilla Android

    If freed from threat from Google, Samsung stop filling their phones with parallel apps, that might actually help Samsung sales to those who presently avoid the brand.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Return to vanilla Android

      Most people I know who have (or had) Samsung are bored / fed up with them or consider them overpriced and have switched to either an iPhone or (if still Android) Moto G / HTC.

      1. Bladeforce

        Re: Return to vanilla Android

        Funny that because most of the people I know love their Samsung phones and I am seeing more and more buying them! Oh wait the sales agree with me! I phones are old hat and ironically fill your comment better. I see more people getting rid of their I phones! Oh wait the sales agree with me on that too!

      2. g e

        Re: Return to vanilla Android

        In the Apple Cultist (AC) universe, maybe.

        All I've seen IRL is people either sticking with ithings or ditching them for (mostly) Sammy or HTC, not ditching droids for ithings.

        Mind you I work in tech, not marketing.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a vain attempt by both Google and Samsung to strengthen their (weak) positions. Google knows it was late to the party and missed out on the better patents that Apple and others bought. Samsung will have a load of patents but will be largely FRAND stuff and how to make a fridge / microwave oven ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unlikely to cover everything

      I'm sure the deal is limited to certain markets that include stuff like smartphones, tablets and laptops, and the software running on them. Google won't get access to Samsung's patents on fridges, ships or DRAM chips, and Samsung won't get access to Google's patents on search or advertising.

      A broad cross licensing agreement that covers all patents is typically only done by companies that compete in the same industry. Other than Android, there is almost zero overlap between these two companies. A full cross license deal would make as much sense as Apple and GE signing a cross licensing deal.

  15. RainForestGuppy

    IF CONTENT(POST) = "Samsung" or "Android" AND NAME="Anonymous Coward" Then LOCATION="Apple Store"

    1. g e

      Apple Cultist

      Apologist Coward


  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So there is honour among thieves after all ;)

    1. Bladeforce

      Re: Honour

      Still not a patch on the thieving Apple and Microsoft have done over the years and they continue to troll

  17. Bladeforce

    great to see..

    Now the two patent trolls Apple & Microsoft will be making a pact next. They are gunning for the two trolls in Cupertino and Redmond. Can't wait to see then collapse around their patent trolling ways

  18. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Star Trek?

    So if Apple = Borg then Microsoft = the Federation?

    Nah! They are all Ferengi families and in common with most Ferengi, the Rules of Acquisition can be bent/adapted/ignored enough to suit any situation. Profit is everything,.... ethics??? Where is the profit in that?

  19. Nibinaear

    Duras sisters at it again.

    Without knowing too many specifics I see this as a positive move. Surely it will lead to greater freedom to innovate and develop technology without having to worry about patents and who owns them? I have the patent wars and Apple are the worst for it.

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