Watch out, IBM, it looks like Google’s just snapped up 1,000 patents belonging to you, which almost sounds dramatic, except for the part where IBM let them.
Make that 1,023 patents in all, which Bloomberg reports were acquired from IBM on August 17. The move is thought to be part of Google’s recent strategy to stockpile patents preemptively, as a bulwark against attempts from companies like Microsoft and Apple to legally threaten Google’s Android operating system.
Those 1,023 patents weren’t the first, either. Google picked up 1,030 patents from IBM in July, and looks to grab a whopping 17,000-plus with its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility Holdings, Inc. According to Google, when that purchase occurred last month, the acquisition was designed to “supercharge the Android ecosystem.”
It’s the Android’s open-source nature that’s been a thorn in Google’s side of late. Google isn’t Android’s sole creator—the technology’s in part based on the work of others—and it’s that nonproprietary aspect that legal teams have been chasing. Google’s competitors have been snatching up patents left and right, in theory looking for chinks in Android’s armor.
Google CEO Larry Page wrote about the patent war in August:
We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android. The U.S. Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to “protect competition and innovation in the open source software community” and it is currently looking into the results of the Nortel auction. 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.
That “better protection” includes working with Android partners like HTC, to whom Bloomberg says Google transferred nine patents last month to help HTC combat a new lawsuit launched by Apple.