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Apple strikes licensing deal with Motorola in Germany, heralds more peaceful times?

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Motorola's war with Apple has certainly been overshadowed by the showdown with Samsung. But, with the latter melodrama shifting into quiet mode, focus is coming back to the battle with Moto. That ongoing story has taken a rather unexpected turn, however. A filing on Monday revealed that the Google subsidiary has agreed to license some (if not all) of its standards-essential patents to Cupertino... in Germany, at least. When exactly the deal was struck isn't clear, and neither side has announced a royalty rate as of yet. It could be that the German courts will decide what is appropriate according to FRAND rules, but the agreement also includes an admission by Apple that it is liable for past damages relating to these patents. The terms seem to include only "cellular standard-essential" patents, which means the company's claims regarding WiFi and video codecs could still be used as an avenue of attack. But, with at least one set of FRAND patents set aside, we wouldn't be surprised if the rest followed. It may be that Moto has simply decided to pick its fights more carefully, in light Apple's recent legal victory and growing pressure from the European Commission surrounding potential abuse of standards-essential patents. Or, it could be an olive branch and a sign that the patent wars are winding down -- a possibility we'd joyously embrace.

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