Google Buys Motorola for 18 Patents

By August 23, 2011

For our tech geeks out there. Google’s acquisition of Motorola is all about patents and intellectual property. From yesterday’s 
Read the full story here.
By Kat Asharya | Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:01 pm
Google’s acquisition of Motorola may help fend off litigation against its Android platform, with a particular set of 18 patents helping to tip the balance of power in legal battles against Google’s OS.
A group of 18 patents may bolster Google’s efforts to fend off legal action targeting the Android mobile platform. The patents cover innovations essential to the mobile industry, such as location services, antenna design, e-mail, touch screen gestures, app management and 3G wireless. They initially formed the heart of three Motorola lawsuits against Apple and are the “stars” of Motorola’s patent portfolio.
In light of Google’s deal to buy Motorola for $12.5 billion, the patents may prove to be some of the most valuable assets for a company whose OS is beset on all sides by patent lawsuits. Apple and Microsoft have targeted phone makers like HTC and Samsung, who use the Android platform on their devices, in what many call a proxy war on Google.
For example, an International Trade Commission judge last month ruled HTC’s Android phones infringed two Apple patents, which may prompt a U.S. import ban or drive up HTC’s prices.
Google itself faces a lawsuit alleging Android infringes on its copyrights, but otherwise the search giant mostly watches from the sidelines as its device manufacturer partners get bludgeoned by legal assaults. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company earlier offered to support besieged companies like HTC; with its Motorola acquisition, Google can now take a more active, aggressive move to protect its OS manufacturers.
“We’ve been saying for some time that we intend to protect the Android ecosystem,” said David Drummond, Google chief legal officer. “It’s under threat.”
The 18 key Motorola patents have led the mobile manufacturer in previous suits against rivals. In October, Motorola levied three lawsuits and an ITC complaint against Apple, targeting several of its iOS products as well as AppleTV and MacBook Air.
Motorola also used four of the 18 patents to force BlackBerry maker Research In Motion into a licensing settlement last year, which required RIM to pay an undisclosed fee upfront and pay royalties.
“There are a lot of sweet patents in that portfolio,” said Dean Becker, chief executive officer of Florida-based ICAP Patent Brokerage, the world’s largest patent firms, to Bloomberg. Becker said Google only needs a few of Motorola’s patents to shore up its legal defense.
Armed with the 18 core Motorola patents, Google now stands on stronger ground in terms of intellectual property. While the search engine giant and its partners have been targeted in lawsuits, Google itself has never led a patent-infringement case against another company. That may change with its Motorola patent acquisitions, and Google may be more aggressive in targeting rivals with suits of its own now that it owns key mobile patents.
Option for settlements and cross-licensing may soon be “inevitable,” according to Ron Epstein, CEO of patent brokerage firm Epicenter IP Group, to Bloomberg. “We’re in a market battle here and people are using innovation as a tool for who will win. The only way to protect your innovation from copying is patents.”
Motorola also leads the way in 4G-related wireless patents. As rivals begin to makes devices to accommodate these higher speeds, Google may also choose to launch legal salvos of its own against competitors with its newly acquired intellectual property.
Google’s purchase of Motorola is a strong warning to rivals that it intends to protect and bolster its Android OS in courts better, but it also opens up the possibility of the company being an aggressor in the ongoing patent battles, complete with lucrative licensing agreements and royalty patents.