Patents, patents and more patents. Woes of Google seems to be never ending.
Google recently pointed the finger at its rivals for buying patents in order to hold back the success of Android, a mobile operating system. Apple, Oracle, Microsoft and other companies are being accused of holding an organized campaign to sabotage Android?s success.
In response to the accusation Microsoft invited Google to bid with it on key patents. The latter turned it down, perhaps after already having lost several battles over patents covering technology used in hand sets.
The Beginning of the Feud
The blog that set off the feud between these leading companies was posted titled ?When patents attack android? by David Drummond, Google?s chief legal officer, on Google?s official blog.
According to Drummond, the rival companies are purchasing , ?bogus patents,? and their, ?anti-competitive strategy is also escalating the cost of patents way beyond what they?re really worth.?
Google purchased Android Inc. in 2005 and the legal officer stated that, ?in this instance we thought it was important to speak out and make it clear that we?re determined to preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it.?.
Brad Smith, Microsoft?s top lawyer, disputed with Drummond. He tweeted the following message soon after the blog was posted, ?Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no.”
As a back-up to his lawyer?s words, Frank Shaw, Microsoft?s head of communications put up another tweet. This was a picture of an email sent by another lawyer of Google, named Kent Walker, where it is stated how Google turned down its chance to join its bid on Novell patents.
The day after posting his blog, Drummond updated it in response to Microsoft?s reaction.? He said that Microsoft?s objective seems to be to keep away any patents that may be used against its attacks from Google and Android device-makers. ?A joint acquisition of the Novell patents that gave all parties a license would have eliminated any protection these patents could offer to Android against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners.?
In the past few months, thousands of patents owned by Novell and Nortel that related to technologies that can be used in smart phones, were purchased by a large number of tech firms, including Apple and Microsoft. However, Google lost these auctions.
Florian Mueller, a patent expert, said that the blog post might be a sign of Google?s frustration over strategic issues. The organization controls relatively few patents relating to mobile technology. “Their big mistake was not to get into the patent buying business. They should have foreseen this.”
Ted Morgan, chief executive of Skyhook stated that he unsuccessfully pitched his company?s patents several times to Google. His company had developed and secured patents for a system that was able to use Wi-Fi signals more accurately be directed to the location of smart phones, in order to help improve the navigation systems of cell phones and augmented-reality apps.
The price of Android phones may increase and there could be a few degradations o the user experience, according to Mueller. He further states that, some firms issue licenses for the patents they own, but Apple is not one of them.
Google is very well aware of this risk and believes that this could make Android devices less easy to use. As per Tech Crunch, Google?s blog post may be in relation to InterDigital that owns 8,800 patents many that relate to mobile technologies.
Google is believed to be interested in acquiring InterDigital but is likely to face competition from Apple, Microsoft, and several others. Though the firm has the finances to bid for InterDigital the joint bids of its rivals may over power it.
The Law Intervenes
Soon after the patent war, the U.S. Department of Justice intervened. It forced the group who bid for the patents (Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and EMC) to give license to the open source community and demanded that Microsoft sell the patents it bought. It stated that this step was necessary to take, ?to protect competition and innovation.?
Sources:? BBC News, Tech Crunch, Official Google Blog, San Francisco Chronicle