Head on over to the official Google blog and you’ll find a very interesting article posted yesterday (August 4th 2011) entitled “When Patents Attack Android” that went on to spark a very pubic and very bitter argument between the technology giants.
Chief Legal Officer at Google, David Drummond, used the original post to launch a highly critically attack on Microsoft, Apple & others for buying up mobile technology patents with the direct intention of limiting innovation and forcing up prices for handsets using the Android operating system. In Drummond’s own words
“Android’s success has yielded…a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents”
This is what seems to have happened. A group of companies (Rockstar) led by Apple and Microsoft have acquired a number of old patents previously held by Novell & Nortel that cover mobile operating software. They were purchased for the princely sum of $4.5 billion, 5 times more than the pre-auction estimate. A hefty investment and one seemingly made to inflict maximum pain on Google’s ambitions for the mobile space.
In doing so they are now able to levy a $15 licensing fee against every handset that uses the Android system. They’re taking violations of these patents very seriously and have already launched suits against Samsung, HTC and Motorola.
Google have hit back and called upon the US Department of Justice to look into this purchase citing it as anti-competitive. Google claim that the Rockstar group are both stifling innovation and limiting consumer choice and that rather than competing “by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation“.
At this point Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith disputed Drummond’s version on the Novell patent issue on Twitter.
“Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no,” Smith tweeted in response to the blog.
And so it seems to go on with executives from both sides taking shots at each other over the issue. But with the mobile market continuing to expand and the prize of dominating the (non-Apple) mobile OS space being granted to the winner of this fight we think it’s going to get much worse for both sides.
To read the original Google blog post go to