Today’s announcement by Google to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion should surprise no one. Although the messaging in the press release focused on bolstering and further developing the Android ecosystem, let’s call this what it really is: Google strengthening their defensive position through the acquisition of almost 21,000 patents (including those 7,000 that are presently pending).
The technology landscape is filled with patent infringement initiatives from almost all of the major players—Apple, HTC, Samsung, Oracle, Nokia and many others. Despite claims of vigorously defending their intellectual property, the main thrust of these is much more competitive in nature, specifically to slow down the growth and adoption of a competitor’s solution. In the Google case, Android is squarely in the bulls-eye.
The acquisition of the Motorola patent portfolio provides Google with some heavy artillery to combat competitive claims. Without a trove of patents to leverage, Google has not been in a position to nullify competitive threats by claiming patent infringement against the originating complainant, and ultimately settling on a cross-licensing arrangement. The Motorola Mobility acquisition changes all of that.
Patents have transformed into formidable competitive weapons, with their value growing exponentially, as clearly evidenced by the $4.5 billion purchase of the Nortel patent suite. With firms continuing to investigate ways to not only better defend their market positions, but to also launch strategic attacks on competitors, a number of firms who have valuable patent portfolios will come into play. InterDigital, whose stock has significantly appreciated over the past few months, and Kodak are prime targets, as well as smaller firms such as Wi-LAN and Mosaid.
It will now be interesting to see which firm makes the next move in this war.
Ryck Marciniak (guest blogger)