3M and Avery Dennison Corp., which both make reflective materials for road signs, have settled their federal court patent infringement lawsuits against each other on terms that they won't discuss.

Both companies have issued statements that make it appear as if they won. But a careful reading of documents from U.S. District Court in Minneapolis indicates that 3M won its 2010 patent infringement lawsuit, and that Pasadena, Calif.-based Avery Dennison must license the 3M patents in question.

The 3M suit claimed that the five patents covering its reflective sheeting products used on traffic signs, pavement marking and other signage had been violated by Avery Dennison. On Friday, 3M said in a statement that the U.S. District Court had ruled in its favor in the patent case, while dismissing Avery's counterclaims of patent infringement and antitrust violations.

Avery Dennison countered in a statement that both its two lawsuits and 3M's single suit were dismissed by the court. In addition, Avery said that 3M's request for an injunction against Avery selling its own reflecting sign material had been rejected by the court, and that Avery Dennison will continue to sell the material.

But in his ruling, Chief District Judge Michael Davis said that 3M's patents were "valid and enforceable" and declared the cases ended under "the terms of a confidential settlement agreement and license agreement."

Both companies, citing the confidentiality of the agreement, declined to say who won the lawsuit.