Tuesday, Motorola Mobility and Apple reached an agreement to license Motorola patents to Apple in Germany. Specifically, standard-essential patents. According to German law, any patent infringement is automatically dealt an injunction, with the exception of standard-essential patents. In the case of standard-essential patents the law states the violator of the patent can make an offer (likely a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory [FRAND] rate) to the patent holder, to which the patent holder cannot refuse without violating antitrust laws.
The larger issue at stake is whether Google’s patent purchase gamble will ever pay off. If standard-essential patents are essentially written off as bare minimum automatic royalties, what amount of leverage does Motorola Mobility’s portfolio offer to protect Android against Apple’s lawyers?
Last week’s Apple-win against Samsung is likely just the beginning of many major cases involving mobile giants. Prepare for a long decade of patent wars, in the end, as consumers, we all lose.