A redacted version of the HTC-Apple patent licensing agreement was published in the public record today as part of the Samsung v. Apple trial, and AllThingsD has a copy. It's 143 pages long (to be fair, only about a fifth of that is the actual settlement), so let me give you the skinny.


First, what has HTC agreed to? Well, it's actually not super complicated to distill down: basically, HTC can use Apple's functional software patents under the license, except those covered under an "anti-cloning" rule and which are part of the "distinct Apple user experience" - unless those features are part of the core Android OS that HTC does not control. That means things like dialing a phone number by recognizing it in plain text and tapping it are presumably now fair game (please bring back the app picker, HTC), while stuff like the rubber-banding effect is probably not. None of this is made explicit as to which patents constitute the "distinct" Apple experience, though, as the relevant sections are redacted. The deal also doesn't cover any of Apple's design patents, trademarks, or other IP.

As for that whole "cross-licensing" bit, yes, this is a cross-licensing deal. But it's a two-way deal only in the sense that the parties get access to one another's patent portfolios. Even then, HTC's access to that portfolio is more limited than Apple's because of the "anti-cloning" provisions.

HTC is also the only one paying any money to anybody, as is made clear in section 6 of the settlement. FYI, Apple's happy to take either ACH or wire transfer. It's obviously redacted as to the amount, but it is 100% confirmed now that HTC is paying a per-unit sold royalty to Apple, and possibly a lump sum, too. Section 6.2 is referenced as to royalties, but 6.1 is not - this may be a lump sum payment for prior infringement.

So, was it a bad deal? Without the numbers, that's hard to call. But it's also pretty much what we expected, and I doubt if HTC's going to be much worse off for settling. The real question now is whether Apple will offer similar deals to other manufacturers, and if they will accept those deals.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: the mobile patent wars are poisoning the industry, and any settlement, even one that makes Apple some money, is good for everyone at the end of the day. The squabbling needs to stop.