Google Claims Apple, Microsoft Are Waging A Patent War On Android

Sad Android Bot

Google has finally voiced their “official” opinion about the ongoing patent suits that are targeting Android, directly or indirectly.  We had earlier seen comments on this from Google officials, but this is the first time that they have come out in the open and written a blog post on the Official Google Blog devoted exclusively to the ongoing slugfest.

The post titled “When Patents Attack Android” is written by David Drummond, Google’s Chief Legal Officer who claims that companies like Microsoft, Apple and Oracle are trying to cripple the Android ecosystem by what he calls “getting into bed with each other”. He goes on to raise a stink about how over valued these patents have become citing the example of Nortel’s patent portfolio which was sold at $4.5 billion, nearly five times its estimated value. He also echoed Schmidt’s statement, which accused Google’s rivals of taking the route of patent litigation rather than innovation to fight competition. An excerpt from the post states:

“A smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 (largely questionable) patent claims, and our competitors want to impose a “tax” for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers. They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices.”

He has also accused Apple and Microsoft are seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; in an attempt to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android, which it gives it for free.

It indicates how vulnerable Google is on the patent front presently. They were caught off-guard when these patent wars started to erupt and now that they realise the seriousness of the situation, it might very well be too late for them. InterDigital’s 8,800 patents are up for grabs and Apple and Google are actively trying to acquire this patent stash.

Apple is in a very strong position in terms of cash, and Google would definitely have to get in bed with one or more of its competitors to keep Apple from acquiring these patents. So unless it chooses to take a high moral ground (to protest against the present patent system) and not bid for the patents at all, it would have to do exactly what Drummord condems in the post, team up to keep others away. Hypocrisy right?

Moreover it wasn’t like Google was never invited to be a part of the winning group of Novell’s patents at all. Two Microsoft execs revealed on Twitter that Google themselves declined an invitation to bid jointly with Microsoft for Novell’s patents.

Tweet 1

Tweet 2

Attached with one of those tweets was an email from Google’s SVP Kent Walker to Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith, which read:

“Brad –

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you — I came down with a 24-hour bug on the way back from San Antonio. After talking with people here, it sounds as though for various reasons a joint bid wouldn’t be advisable for us on this one. But I appreciate your flagging it, and we’re open to discussing other similar opportunities in the future.

I hope the rest of your travels go well, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

– Kent”

For what reasons Google denied the invitation isn’t known, but this coupled the Nortel patent loss cost Google a lot, which left them with no option but to seek public support, through the blog.

Interestingly, Google has remained silent on the parallel patent wars going on between developers and firms like Lodsys and Kotool. This is in contrast to what is going on at the Apple front, where Apple has taken a firm stance against these patent trolls and backed their developers.

So it seems Google believes in voicing their opinions and taking a stance only when they are directly under threat, rather than actually giving support to these developers whose efforts are in fact what has Google has piggy backed on since long to promote Android.

The most important thing to take away from the post – Google is publicly acknowledging that Android’s existence is in jeopardy if the patent scene doesn’t change.

What do you think? Please share your views in the comment section below.

[via Google BlogImage Source:Technologizer]

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  • Goodman

    If this is the case Android should not be using the technologies from other companies. Would google be OK if it hold most patents and Apple and Microsoft copied them? The Good had a change to buy a lot of mobile patents from Nortel’s patent portfolio but it never. Why should Google spend money on patents when it can get phone manufactures to pay for it? If Google is not careful Android will end up more expensive than Windows Phone.

    • I love Google, but not Android. They revolutionized the internet. I think they will continue to do so for a while. MS and Apple are 100% correct here, stealing is stealing.

    • rodebest

      google has its set of patents just like htc and they only make a minor amount sue’s against other company’s. apple sues everybody for zero reasons.

      and btw, apple did not came up with most of those technologies they just patented them like multitouch and such.

      multi-touch was introduced by a university in the 80’s not by apple.

      they are just a set of baby’s who noticed the other ones get more candy (mobiles) so they start crying at mommy (patent wars)

  • mineAREgrown

    This guy seriously needs to grow a set. What a crybaby.

  • anakin

    You guys do know that this article is biased right?

    Little things like this:

    “The most important thing to take away from the post – Google is publicly acknowledging that Android’s existence is in jeopardy if the patent scene doesn’t change.”

    ..shows the bias a bit too much. There’s absolutely *nothing* to assume that android’s future is in jeopardy. (quite the opposite in fact when you realize that android phones are more sold than iphones since february and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down)

    The patent wars has only begun and it will affect *everyone*. Google is simply stating how absurd the abuse of software patents have become.

    btw, the article doesn’t mention that the first initial bid for the Nortel patents were 900M (from Google) not 4B. They were *forced* to bid higher thanks to MS,Apple,etc. The bid ended up to 5 times the initial amount.

    The article also does not mention that the department of justice has *forced* Microsoft to give a license of its patents to the open source community, as such move is “necessary to protect competition and innovation in the open source software community”.

    Interesting that the DOJ didn’t go after Apple. Or will they? Only time will tell as Microsoft/Apple/RIM are still under investigation for anti-competitive strategies.

    • jus-sayin

      “btw, the article doesn’t mention that the first initial bid for the Nortel patents were 900M (from Google) not 4B. They were *forced* to bid higher thanks to MS,Apple,etc. The bid ended up to 5 times the initial amount.”

      hmm exactly the point, they tried to get the patents and got out bided…… were offered the opportunity with MS and turned it down, probably because they thought they could have it all to them selves……….. and now they got nothing they cry toooooooo baaaaaaaaaaad!!!!!!!!!!

      As said they give thier s/w for free so the handset OEM can pay…. why not they just saved a shit load on s/w development!!!!!!!!

  • KillerPubes

    I like androids, one day they will have robotic pussies and can be made to look like Jennifer Anniston. I will make my Jennifer Anniston Robot Pussy Android cook me some food after wetting her interior.

  • Zolk

    None of this is going to stop me from getting an HTC Evo 3D next month!

    • Zolk

      NB- to replace my aging iphone3gs, which is going, quite well all things considered, with it’s jailbroken, untethered, unlocked ios4.3.3 system.

      • Zolk

        Oops! Inappropriate apostrophe, I wish we could edit our posts!

  • hmm…


  • KillerPubes

    Robotic Pussies>Androids

    You could even have an Android that looks like your Grandmother. Not sure if a robotic pussy would be appropriate on a Grannie Android. You’d have to WD40 it often to keep it operative.

  • fas

    Android seems to easily dominate!

  • Droid

    Google knows they have everybody gunning for their Top Dog position. It comes with the territory when you’re the Alfa Male already doubling up on your closest competitor…. Apple!

    The problem; Google is asking Apple and Microsoft from their vantage point so far atop the Smartphone Sales pack, “How High Can You Piss…. Biotches!!! ….w/o it coming back down and hitting you in your own face!” ;-p

  • Droid

    BTW…. Microsoft’s Brad Smith should go back to school. So he can learn to tell the difference in spelling between Novell and Nortel! lol…..