Published: Sat, January 20, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Ellis Neal

Google, China's biggest tech firm sign patent-sharing deal

Google, China's biggest tech firm sign patent-sharing deal

However, social media and gaming firm Tencent could present a route back into the market, with its social messaging service, WeChat, the largest in China and boasting one billion users worldwide.

Google has reached an agreement with China's biggest tech firm to share patents covering a range of products and technologies, according to a new report on Friday.

Sam Xu, head of intellectual property at Tencent, added that the patent agreement would "advance the collaboration between two leading technology companies".

Google did not disclose the scope of the new patent deal and Tencent did not immediately respond to questions about which products the patent agreement will cover.

California-based Google already has similar cross-licensing tie-ups with Samsung, LG and others, which are typical industry arrangements between corporations created to minimise patent infringements.

Although Google has signed similar agreements with Samsung and Cisco in the past, the partnership with Tencent represents a turning point in its commercial dealings in China.

Google effectively withdrew its search engine from China's heavily controlled internet landscape in 2010 following a row over censorship and cyber-attacks.

The agreement with Tencent clarifies Google's decision to aggressively move into China by opening more offices and increasing its workforce, despite the Chinese government's push to keep many of Google's services out of the hands of citizens.

But there have been hints of a thaw in relations after Chinese regulators recently allowed access to Google's translation product and the launch of an artificial intelligence (AI) center in Beijing. In December, Google invested $120m in Chinese live-stream gaming app Chushou, which offers similar live streaming services to those of Google-owned YouTube.

Robin Li, CEO of Baidu, told TIME journalist Charlie Campbell in an interview that his company can "dominate the global market for AI by harnessing China's greatest advantage: scale".

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