Google may have neglected its patents around Android technology in the past, but now their ready for war.
A thousand patents have now been purchased from IBM by Google, which is an effort to insulate them when litigation comes for infringement. Google was only the holder of 700 patents, which is miniscule to most cell phone based companies who have thousands just in a specific field. Now that the Android leads the cell phone software market at a 40% share, it needs to defend its kingdom. Until now Google did not see the business sense for investing in a flurry of patents, but now that companies are trying to cement themselves against any rivals it is an absolute mobile must.
This is a difficult proposition for the Android in many ways as it is the most open of the mobile operating systems, making the iOS look like a Stalinist dictatorship. The Android software is open for free and people can make changes to it, which means that it could come up against another company’s patent without Google even being aware. It is exactly this kind of loose knit federalist structure for the Android OS that has allowed it to jet through the market so rapidly, though it is also why there is not a universal set of apps or tools that works across the Android field.
October will mark Google’s combat with Oracle over what they see as the Android attack on their Java patents, a security they received with the Sun Microsystems purchase. This is a several billion-dollar lawsuit, and no matter what the outcome is the time and legal fees it takes are less than ideal for Google. They have begun to make attempts ahead of this to start stacking the patents into their bunker, especially when the Nortel Networks patents came up for bid earlier this year. Again, Google came in too week and companies like Apple and Research in Motion bumped them out of the way.
Though it is simply part of Google’s risk reduction program, they have initiated a response that may end up being positive for the market as a whole. Google is looking directly to the FTC and Congress to cut down on patent lawsuits that are now becoming a central part of market competition. They are stating openly that this type of litigation is something that will inevitably cut down on innovation, and technological development should be preserved. This is the model that they have followed with the decentralization of the Android OS, and it is an option for creating a more rapid source of free technological growth in a way that is not specific to just one company.