It’s should be no surprise to anyone on how Google really feels about patents. They have made it perfectly clear where they stand on the issue of patents and more specifically ones that focus on software, and how they’re used to attack other companies in court. Google dislikes them greatly and they feel that all they are is a roadblock that only serves to hinder innovation. Perhaps it is this reason that Google has been largely acquiring whatever patents they can, when they can. Imagine if the patent lawsuits between Google and Apple could have been avoided.
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Google’s cache of patents is growing exponentially at a rapid rate, as MIT’s Technology Review reports that they are being awarded 10 patents for every day that the United States patent office is open for business, compared to the 38 they won in 2007 when the first iPhone was released. 10 a day is more than Google was awarded all year when they were founded back in 2003. We know Google isn’t a fan of patents or the patent system the way it currently serves patent owners, so why is Google snatching up all that they can? In particular, Google is seeking to protect their interests across all forms of their business ventures, not just Android.
Comparison chart that displays the patent growth of Google as well as other competing technological companies from 2002 to 2013(Image from the report by MIT Technology Review)
Alongside the 1,800 patents that Google is on track to receive this year, Google has nearly 51,000 patents and patents pending. A large quantity of the patents that Google has in it’s possession are due in large part to the acquisition of Motorola Mobility last year which cost them $12.5 billion. A large cost but a sound investment from Google’s point of view as it netted them 17,000 of Motorola Mobility’s patents and 7,000 patents pending.
The search giant won 177 patents in November of this year alone, which just goes to show how dedicated Google is to protecting their investments. Google is largely known for innovative ideas, with some being extremely useful, and some being just downright out there. Among the list of filings, are patents for things like a method of determining the 3D location of traffic lights for better visibility by automated cars(this is clearly in direct relation to their development of the self driving vehicle), and patents for flying wind turbines and voice interfaces. Google has even set out to do anti-aging research through their newest venture, which is a company they created called Calico and will undoubtedly file for patents that revolve around their findings. The company’s vision is to attempt to extend human life by 100 years. As outlandish as this idea may seem, innovation has to start somewhere.
As Google feels that most software patents are of questionably low quality, they are proud of the patents that they have themselves acquired and defend their status as high quality patents. After numerous attacks in the past from Apple on Google, Motorola Mobility and Samsung, it’s no wonder Google is doing whatever they can to secure their intellectual property.