Google signs patent deal with WeChat developer Tencent amid China push

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. (Reuters)
Updated 19 January 2018
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Google signs patent deal with WeChat developer Tencent amid China push

BEIJING: Alphabet’s Google has agreed to a patent licensing deal with Tencent Holdings as it looks for ways to expand in China where many of its products, such as app store, search engine and email service, are blocked by regulators.
The US technology company has signed similar agreements before with Samsung, LG and Cisco Systems, but the deal with Tencent is a first with a large Chinese tech firm.
Google has previously said that agreements such as these reduce the potential of litigation over patent infringement.
The agreement with the Chinese social media and gaming firm Tencent covers a broad range of products and paves the way for collaboration on technology in the future, Google said on Friday, without disclosing any financial terms of the deal.
Tencent oversees China’s top social media and payments app, WeChat, which has close to a billion users. It also oversees one of the country’s most popular app stores and hosts the country’s biggest gaming and livestream platforms.
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.
“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.
Over the past year, Google has indicated that it was looking to increase it presence in the restrictive Chinese market, with the launch of a local AI research lab, introduction of a version of its translation app and expansion into new cities.
The company announced this month that it had invested in Chinese livestream gaming app Chushou, which is similar to Google’s own YouTube game livestreaming services.
In December, Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke at a conference in China hosted by the Cyberspace Administration of China, which oversees censorship in the country.


Tunisia to almost double gas production this year

Updated 18 January 2019
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Tunisia to almost double gas production this year

  • The project will be jointly owned by Austria’s OMV and Tunisian National Oil Company ETAP
  • It will include investments of about $700 million

TUNIS: Tunisia will almost double production of natural gas to about 65,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day this year, the industry and energy minister, Slim Feriani, told Reuters on Friday.
The country’s gas output will jump from 35,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) when the southern Nawara gas field comes onstream in June, Feriani said.
“We will raise our production by about 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent when the Nawara project in the south will start,” Feriani told Reuters in interview.
This project will be jointly owned by Austria’s OMV and Tunisian National Oil Company ETAP with investments of about $700 million.
Feriani also said Tunisia was seeking to attract about $2 billion in foreign investment to produce 1,900 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy in three years. “We will start launching international bids for the production of renewable wind and sun energy. We aim to produce 1,900 MW by investment of up to $2 billion until 2022,” he said.
This would represent about 22 percent of the country’s electricity production.
PHOSPHATE
Tunisia also plans to raise production of phosphate from 3 million tons to 5 million in 2019, he said.
Raising the output will boost economic growth and provide revenue to revive its faltering economy, the minister said.
Phosphate exports are a key source of foreign currency reserves, which have dropped to levels worth just 82 days of imports, according to Tunisia’s central bank.
Tunisia produced about 8.2 million tons of phosphate in 2010 but output dropped after its 2011 revolution. Annual output has not exceeded 4.5 million tons since 2011.
Feriani said lower production has caused Tunisia to lose markets and about $1 billion each year.
Phosphate exports were hit by repeated protests in the main producing region of Gafsa, where unemployed youth demanding jobs blockaded rail transport.