If you haven’t read it yet, read Google Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond’s post When patents attack Android. In it Drummond complains about Google’s losing the recent Nortel and Novell patent auctions to rivals Apple and Microsoft.
Drummond believes that Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and others are colluding against Google in “a hostile, organized campaign… waged through bogus patents.” He goes on to say:
They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the “Rockstar” group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Phone 7; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.
ZDNet’s Larry Dignan notes that Google is lashing out because it’s being litigated from all sides:
Google’s Android platform faces legal threats on a number of fronts at the moment, ranging from disputes with Oracle about patent infringement over Java to several manufacturers (namely Samsung and HTC) that have developed mobile devices (i.e. smartphones and tablets) based on Android to be engaged in multiple lawsuits with Apple.
One of Drummond’s main points is about the rising prices of patents:
This anti-competitive strategy is also escalating the cost of patents way beyond what they’re really worth. The winning $4.5 billion for Nortel’s patent portfolio was nearly five times larger than the pre-auction estimate of $1 billion.
Who’s to say what’s “way beyond what they’re really worth,” anyway? Apple and Microsoft obviously thought that the patents were worth more than Google did, so they paid more for them. It’s as simple as that. Google was interested enough to bid pi billion, but when it got outbid it whines about it on its official blog. Sounds like sour grapes to me.
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