Google Make Their Move in Patent Wars

Google Acquire Motorola

Jessica Thornsby

What does this mean for competing hardware manufacturers?

Google have announced they will acquire Motorola.

Larry Page, CEO of Google has posted about the acquisition at the official Google blog. He praises Motorola’s past support for Android, pinpointing this as one of the reasons why the two companies are so well-suited. He also refers to Motorola as the market leader in the home devices and video solutions business and states that:

“Motorola has a history of over 80 years of innovation in communications technology and products, and in the development of intellectual property, which have helped drive the remarkable revolution in mobile computing we are all enjoying today.”

Moving forward, Page assures the community that Android will continue to be open, and they will run Motorola as a separate business – Motorola will remain a licensee of Android. When it comes to Motorola’s competitors, Page states that “many hardware partners have contributed to Android’s success and we look forward to continuing to work with all of them to deliver outstanding user experiences.”

Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google, Andy Rubin, has also spoken out on what the acquisition will mean for other hardware manufacturers, reiterating that Motorola will remain a separate business, and that there is no guarantee Motorola will release the next Nexus:

“The acquisition is going to be run as a separate business. They will be part of that bidding process (for Nexus,) and part of that lead development process. And obviously Android remains open to other partners to use as they are today.”

Page also sheds some light on Google’s motivation for acquiring Motorola, referring specifically to the current trend of large software companies banding together to purchase patent portfolios. Oracle, Apple and EMC, recently moved to acquire Novell’s patents; while the “Rockstar” group, including Apple, Microsoft, RIM and Sony, acquired Nortel’s patent portfolio for $4.5 billion. David Drummond, Chief Legal Officer at Google branded this “a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents,” and the Department of Justice are currently investigating whether Microsoft and Apple acquired the Nortel patents as part of an anti-competitive strategy. However, Microsoft officials hit back at these allegations via Twitter, with Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith tweeting :”Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no.”

Hot on the heels of this tweet, lead of corporate communications at Microsoft, Frank Shaw posted an image of an email, which seems to show Google lawyer Kent Walker and Brad Smith discussing the deal. In the alleged email, Kent Walker says:

“After talking with people here, it sounds as though for various reasons a joint bid wouldn’t be advisable for us on this one.”

However, according to the Google CEO, this acquisition is a very necessary move in the patent war:

“Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.”

Google will acquire Motorola for $12.5 billion. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, and is expected to close by the end of 2011 or early 2012.

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