Keep It Fair: Apple, Google Address Concerns Over Mobile Patent Licensing

All is indeed fair in love and war, but not everything is fair in patent licensing. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) are working on measures to level the playing field in the mobile patent disputes by clarifying what is “fair” when it comes to patent licensing terms.

After an explosive 2011, in which seemingly everyone involved in the mobile industry sued their counterparts, 2012 is shaping up as more of a slog. As weary companies start to strongly consider patent licenses instead of patent trials, the notion of FRAND patents–patents essential to tech standards that are required to be licensed on a “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” basis–is becoming more important, and different people have different ideas concerning what it means to be fair.

As a result, Apple has asked the European Telecommunications Standards Institute to clarify exactly what royalty rates its members can seek on so-called FRAND patents, according to The Wall Street Journal. Concern has surfaced regarding a royalty proposal made by Motorola (NYSE: MMI) to Apple that some consider exceedingly high, although the exact details of that proposal were not made public.

Meanwhile, Google is planning to send a letter to standards bodies that makes clear its intention to follow FRAND principles with Motorola’s patents should it be allowed to acquire the handset maker, according to Bloomberg. Google needs Motorola’s patents to help fend off attacks against its Android partners, but its rivals have speculated that Google could be planning offensive moves as well.