Samsung, Google patent deal a good template, but...

Samsung and Google tout a patent cross licensing pact and argue the tech industry should follow, but the companies' symbiotic relationship almost requires such a deal on intellectual property.


Samsung and Google have inked a broad patent cross-licensing agreement that covers current intellectual property as well as whatever is cooked up over the next decade.

The companies announced that patent agreement in a blog post.

According to Google and Samsung, the patent deal allows the companies to "reduce the potential for litigation and focus instead on innovation."

That comment was a thinly-veiled dig at Apple, which has battled Samsung for years over patents.

Samsung and Google now plan to collaborate more on research and development as well as future products. The cross-licensing pact combines the No. 2 U.S. patent holder (Samsung) in 2013 with Google at No. 11, according to IFI Claims Patent Services.

Dr. Seungho Ahn, head of Samsung's intellectual property center, said the deal was "highly significant" for the tech industry. Google and Samsung are now showing the industry that there "is more to gain from cooperating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes."

Ahn has a point---to a degree. Of course, if the entire tech industry crafted similar deals instead of going to court the intellectual property world would be a better place. In that regard, Samsung and Google offer a decent template to follow.

But there are a few unique conditions that are in place between Google and Samsung that make a 10-year patent pact worthwhile. Consider:

  • Google needs Samsung because it's the biggest Android smartphone and tablet maker. Without Samsung, Google's Android team looks like a football team stocked with weaklings. And yes I'm including Google's Motorola Mobility on the Android junior varsity at best.
  • Samsung needs Google because despite efforts to make its own name in software and cook up neat applications it still needs Android underneath.
  • The two companies are symbiotic. Samsung and Google may just be the next-generation version of Microsoft and Intel. Unfortunately, Samoogle or Googsung doesn't roll off the tongue like Wintel does. 
  • Samsung and Google have a mutual frenemy: Apple.

In other words, Google and Samsung are showing that there's far more to gain for the companies if they collaborate. That template may not fit everywhere---nor should it.