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A Microsoft-Google Détente in Patent Fight?

The Microsoft-Google relationship appears to be entering a less hostile phase.

The companies issued a joint statement Wednesday bringing to an end five years' worth of patent lawsuits covering about 20 cases in the United States and Germany:

"Microsoft and Google are pleased to announce an agreement on patent issues. As part of the agreement, the companies will dismiss all pending patent infringement litigation between them, including cases related to Motorola Mobility. Separately, Google and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers."

Terms of the agreement weren't disclosed, and Microsoft's patent infringement agreements with Android device manufacturers don't appear to be affected.

In short, the agreement doesn't end all areas of conflict between the companies, by any means. But it does line up with the less combative style of Satya Nadella compared to his predecessors in the Microsoft CEO role.

Nadella's Microsoft has been much more visibly collaborative with competitors, which, frankly, has always been a sign of Microsoft at its best. When your product portfolio has as much surface area as Microsoft's does, it only makes sense to work with companies in some areas while competing vigorously in other areas.

The Google move is of a piece with a commentary on Microsoft's partnering guidelines last week by Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft. Pointing to the collaboration with Microsoft frenemies like Salesforce.com and Dropbox in Office 2016, Johnson laid out five principles -- respect, listen, say what you mean and mean what you say, stay focused, and don't be afraid to take a pause or hit reset.

This latest Google agreement would qualify as a reset.

Posted by Scott Bekker on October 01, 2015 at 11:09 AM