Mark Bridge writes:
David Drummond, Google’s Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, has just written a blog post that describes an ‘anti-competitive strategy’ against Android by companies including Apple, Microsoft and Oracle. Entitled “When patents attack Android”, it points out that more than 550,000 Android devices are now activated every day... and says this has resulted in “a hostile, organized campaign against Android”.
The article goes on to say “a smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 (largely questionable) patent claims, and our competitors want to impose a ‘tax’ for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers.”
It’s a topic that’s clearly been troubling Google for a while. Its recent attempt to buy Nortel’s patent portfolio was positioned as a defence against patent litigation - and last week, Techcrunch.com reported Kent Walker, Google’s General Counsel, as saying “A patent isn’t innovation. It’s the right to block someone else from innovating.”
While I see Google’s point when it comes to wide-ranging and deliberately vague patents, I also know I’d want some kind of reward if I invented something myself.
In fact, that’s pretty much how Google built its business. As Intellectual Property analyst Florian Mueller recently pointed out, Google’s search engine business was founded on a single software patent.
To quote Mr Mueller, “If you ever hear them denounce their PageRank patent as a youthful mistake or as an impediment to innovation, please let me know.”