The patent war heats up!

IBM gives more than 200 patents to Google, bolstering their defences?

Chris Mayer

Google looks to be bulking up their portfolio ahead of more legal wrangling with Oracle in the coming year.

It could be conceived as a late Christmas present for Google, as IBM assigned 217 more patent filings in total to the company just before the year was out.

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent assignment database, Google had acquired 188 granted patents and 29 patents pending from IBM in a deal recorded on December 30.

As first reported on SEO by the Sea, details beyond the patents in question, such as the terms of this agreement, are at the moment unknown. Both declined to comment on the deal too, but acknowledge that it took place.

These exchanges between Google and IBM were fairly commonplace throughout last year (over 1,000 between July and September) but recently it’s fair to say that Google have been much more aggressive in acquiring intellectual property.

The patents of course could be incredibly beneficial in developing new products for Google but what seems more likely is Google realising the need to bolster their portfolio for impending litigation cases – none more important than the ensuing Oracle case over the possible copyright infringement of Java with their Android platform.

The latest trove of patents covers a broad range of topics – with only a few devoted to web and telephone and mobile applications. Several database-related patents could spark Oracle’s interest such as the patents 59374066442548 and 7831632. Another that could affect Oracle products is 7,100,154 which makes specific references to the JIT compiler within its description.

Critics have speculated that the acquisition of these patents could prove key for the Android defence, gifting them ammunition that could nudge Oracle towards settling the case this year.

The ramificiations for Java could prove huge though. IBM is clearly the kingmaker here, recognising the skyrocketing value of these patents but what does this patent trading do for its position on the JCP Executive Committee. It surely can’t sit easily. 

Either way, expect the patent negotiating to heighten in the coming months as we may come closer to progress in the Google/Oracle trial.

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