Friday, September 16, 2011

Google acquires 1,023 more patents from IBM, slotted for Android defense

Google's acquisition of Motorola has been characterized by many as mostly, if not all, about Motorola Mobility's patents. With patent threats looming from Apple and Microsoft, seemingly a way to combat an Android platform they can't seem to beat off with their own products, Google's has gone to Big Blue for still more patent protection.

Transfers published on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) website on Tuesday show that Google has acquired 1,023 patents from IBM on Aug. 17. No details on the financials have been released, but Jim Prosser, a spokesman for Google, confirmed the transaction.

The acquisition of these patents is designed to bolster Google's patent cache as part of an ongoing strategy to defend itself patent lawsuits issued against its Android platform. Why would buying other, unrelated patents be a defensive move for Google? Simply said, often these sorts of things end up being settled by cross-patent licensing agreements.

In a transaction recorded by the USPTO in July, Google acquired 1,030 patents from IBM, and of course, if its acquisition of Motorola Mobility is approved, the company will obtain an additional 17,000+, not including a few thousand more in review.

The patent fights are something that Google's partners have recognized, even applauding the purchase of Motorola, with Samsung, for example, saying it was a necessary step in order for Google to defend Android and its partners.  [That said, there is definite concern about Motorola gaining advantages over the other OEMs with regard to Android.]

HTC, Samsung, and Motorola Mobility all have each been targeted in lawsuits issued Apple, and Microsoft and Motorola Mobility have exchanged patent-infringement allegations.

To aid its partners, in August, Google transferred nine patents to HTC. Those came from purchases made in the last year from companies including the former Motorola (which was split this year into Motorola Mobility (MMI) and Motorola Solutions (MSI), and Openwave Systems. HTC used those patents quickly, last week filing its own lawsuit against Apple.

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