Google signs peace agreement with smartphone makers over software patents

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Google has signed a patent agreement with smartphone manufacturers including Samsung, LG and HTC to share software licences for qualified devices.

The "PAX" agreement covers Android applications that are pre-installed onto smartphones that meet Google's requirements. However, Google did not detail which other kinds of patents are covered by the agreement.

The agreement is an attempt to avoid costly and lengthy legal actions over patents, with the member companies choosing not to sue one another.

In January, Apple took Qualcomm to court over what it claimed was $1 billion in withheld patent payments, a charge the chipset maker denied.

Between the nine companies signed up to PAX, more than 230,000 patents are owned globally. The group comprises Google, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, HTC, Foxconn Technology Group, Coolpad, BQ, HMD Global, and Allview. Google is encouraging other smartphone makers to participate in the group, which is free to join.

[Read more: ZTE out files Huawei, European rivals in patent wars]

Jamie Rosenberg, VP, Business and Operations, Android and Google Play, said: "Under PAX, members grant each other royalty-free patent licenses covering Android and Google Applications on qualified devices.

"This community-driven clearinghouse, developed together with our Android partners, ensures that innovation and consumer choice—not patent threats—will continue to be key drivers of our Android ecosystem. PAX is free to join and open to anyone."