Apple and HTC have settled a long-running patent dispute by agreeing a 10-year licence agreement the covers both current and future patents held by either company.
The announcement is a significant moment for both companies, coming two years after the first legal tussle between the two arose in the courts and with a US International Trade Commission dispute against two HTC smartphones still active in the US.
Those two handsets, the One X and Evo 4G, were held at Customs earlier this year due to the injunction, and while HTC has developed a workaround to circumvent the ban, the ITC has yet to officially approve it.
Now it won't have to, as the licence agreement between the two companies settles all current legal disputes between them and allows HTC to use features such as slide-to-unlock and universal search without being dragged into the courtrooms by Apple.
The big question, of course, is how much is HTC paying for the privilege? Neither company is saying, though HTC told The Verge it “does not expect this license agreement to have any adverse material impact on the financials of the company”.
The move makes a fair bit of sense for both sides. A stronger HTC will provide greater opposition to current Android superpower Samsung, which suits Apple, while HTC will have the freedom to design and build new products without fear of being sued. Well, not by Apple at least.
However, you could also argue that the fact Apple has been willing to strike a deal with HTC in the first place, and on what seems to be a fairly favourable terms for the Taiwanese firm, sends another serious message too: it no longer views HTC as a serious threat.