We all know that when Google bought Motorola last year for $12.4 billion dollars the company line was that it was all for the patents. While everyone in the Android community was drooling over the possible hardware ramifications after the marriage of the two companies, the suits over at Google were quick to put water on that fire with statements like “We acquired Motorola to level the playing field in patent attacks against Android,” from Google spokesman Matt Kalman.
After a while we all just kind of got used to the idea that the deal really was about all of those 17,000 patents even as visions of X phones danced in our heads. In what has become a tough month for Google in the courtroom however, the search giant may have to reassess that original plan.
In the last week Google had a patent case with Microsoft regarding royalties owed on every Xbox gaming system and Windows Operating system, as well as a head to head battle with Apple in a separate filing. In the Microsoft decision Google came out on the winning end but rather than getting the billions in compensation they were seeking, they ended up with nothing more than pocket change. The Apple dispute was even worse for Google as they lost it outright.
Those two were just a couple of instances where Google overplayed their hand with these Motorola patents. In the past year attempts to limit the sales of Microsoft in Europe have been met with failure, a filing against Apple re: wireless technology was kicked out by a U.S trade panel, and yet another lawsuit with Apple was tossed by a U.S. judge in Chicago.
There are always two sides of any argument though, and while the lawsuits that have actually made it to the courtroom haven’t produced the desired results, you could say it’s the ones that never made it there that have made the acquisition worth it. “It definitely has taken a lot of pressure off Android,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Robert Baird & Co. “There was the appearance of multiple storm clouds in the patent litigation for Android until they closed this acquisition.”
Google has always said that they bought these patents not to strong arm companies, although they will take their shots, but as a defense against litigation. We have seen Apple sue everyone and their mother in the past few years and if Google can back up their Android partners using the Motorola patents they can save everyone the headache of some of these ridiculous patent suits.