Google has announced another patent deal, this time with Cisco. Like their previous patent agreements, no details of what patents were included were released. Though both companies remain part of the Coalition for Patent Reform, they also understand that reform is a long-term strategy, and agreements like these have a more immediate impact.
Via Cisco, we learn that each company will have access to the others’ patent portfolio, at least as it relates to certain tech. It’s unlikely either will get carte blanche to peruse patents as they like, but Cisco says “The agreement allows each company to extract significant value from its patent portfolio through a license to the other's portfolio and by helping to reduce the risk of future litigation.” Dan Lang, Cisco’s VP of Intellectual Property, said “In today's overly-litigious environment, cross-licensing is an effective way for technology companies to work together and help prevent unnecessary patent lawsuits. This agreement is an important step in promoting innovation and assuring freedom of operation”.
Allen Lo, Google’s Deputy General Counsel for Patents, said “Our agreement with Cisco will reduce the potential for litigation, letting us focus instead on building great new products. We’re pleased to enter into this cross-license, and we welcome discussions with any company interested in a similar arrangement.” This is the latest in a sea change of attitude among the tech elite, wherein they’d rather get along than litigate. Actions like this only create an environment of competitive camaraderie amongst tech companies, which in turn brings better products to markets.
By allowing access to patents, companies like Google and Cisco have time to innovate without needing to run things past their legal departments for approval. This is also one of several moves like this by Google, which means they’re at the forefront of this movement. Once more, Google leads the way in innovation — it’s just different than we imagined this time around.