Google and Chinese tech group Tencent have struck a long-term agreement to cross-license patents on a wide range of products and technologies, the US company’s latest move in a market where many of its products and services are not available.
Both companies will have the freedom to access each other’s patent portfolios, with neither party able to sue the other for infringing patents — a factor the duo said would speed up development by removing legal risks.
Google and Tencent also held out the potential for future technology collaborations. Neither company disclosed financial details of the arrangement.
The US group has a growing hardware and ad business in China, despite its search engine being blocked since 2010 after the company pulled out of the country following conflicts with authorities over censorship. This week it was revealed that the company had quietly opened a third office in Shenzhen, the former fishing village near Hong Kong where both Tencent and Huawei are also based.
Google also recently opened its first artificial intelligence lab in China.
The US tech group has signed similar deals in the past, including with Samsung and LG of South Korea, however this is its first such agreement in China.
“By working together on agreements such as this, tech companies can focus on building better products and services for their users,” said Mike Lee, Google’s head of patents.
Sam Xu, deputy general counsel and head of intellectual property at Tencent, added: “We are pleased to advance the collaboration between two leading technology companies.”
Chinese companies are big holders of international patents. According to data from the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Chinese inventors made 43,000 international patent applications in 2016 and the country is poised to become the world’s largest user of the international patent system.
Tencent dominates the internet market in the country with a range of services spanning gaming, social media and shopping. Its products do not overlap directly.
Along with Alibaba, its main rival in China, Tencent has become more active in international deals and partnerships over the past year.
Earlier this month it formed a wide-ranging digital partnership to develop games, online videos and a social media network for children in China with Lego, the Danish toymaker.
Get alerts on Alphabet Inc when a new story is published