In Striking Cross-License Agreement With Google, Verizon Calls for Patent Reform

Verizon Communications and Google have entered into a patent cross-license agreement that the companies said would curtail the risk of future litigation over patents.

Verizon and Google noted the pact covers a broad range of products and technologies.

“Verizon has long championed patent reforms and industry actions that promote innovation,” noted Randal Milch, Verizon general counsel, in a statement. “We look forward to striking similar deals with other high-tech companies also concerned with the innovation tax that patent trolls often collect.”

“We’re pleased to enter into this agreement with an industry leader like Verizon, and we welcome discussions with any company interested in a similar arrangement,” said Kirk Dailey, head of patent transactions at Google.

Although the U.S. Constitution says the patent system is intended to “promote the progress of science and useful arts,” the system in high-tech industries can be exploited, hindering innovation, Milch wrote in a blog.

The high-tech industry is notorious for patent litigation, with Apple and its rival Samsung marked as Exhibit A. The companies have sued each other around the world for infringement of intellectual property. Earlier this year, a California jury awarded Apple $119.6 million and Samsung $158,400, although the companies were seeking $2.2 billion and $6 million, respectively.

“High-tech products can implicate thousands of patents, and when patent litigation takes years, costs millions of dollars, and comes long after innovators have launched new products, the Johnny-come-lately owner of a single patent can threaten an entire innovative ecosystem,” Milch declared. “That’s bad for innovation and bad for American consumers.”

Milch said agreements such as the one Verizon struck with Google aren’t adequate to fix the patent system. He expressed support for federal legislative patent reform over the next year.

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