On the Patents of Motogoo


…if Motorola’s patent portfolio were really that dangerous, Apple would have settled quickly, not dragged out patent countersuits of its own. Apple settled with Nokia pretty quickly, and Nokia, like Motorola, has patents primarily in network technology, not the kind of usability and OS technologies Apple has the most strength in…

Daniel Eran Dilger rarely holds back at Roughly Drafted. And even if he is being objective (read the even more dismissive commentary in the full article), those who he describes as “deciding Google’s strategy”will go “ha, fanboy” and ignore what he writes.

So lets see what everyone else is saying. Nilay Patel at This is my next makes an interesting point that perhaps the Motorola patents might be more valuable in the Google v Oracle Battelfront of The Great Patent War of 2011:

…Oracle case is probably the most significant to the Android ecosystem right now, and it’s also the one in which Google is doing the most poorly…Motorola owns plenty of patents on networking and video encoding as well. That’s the sort of easy cross-license that makes sense, but it all depends on whether Oracle decides it stands more to gain from collecting license fees from Android or more to lose from a Motorola patent lawsuit.

I haven’t been able to find any evidence of any knowledgeable patent lawyers clarifying the quality of Motorola’s patents yet. I imagine that commentary will come later. If you were a Google shareholder, though, you’d have to be happy that the experts had done their collective jobs and found a few tasty ones in the Motorola portfolio. Which they’d be happy to welcome into the “defence of Android” in this Great Patent War of 2011.

If you were a shareholder, though, you might get a bit nervous when you read this (albeit unvalidated) comment from a former member of staff who claims he worked with their patents:

…having worked with Motorola patents for many years as a Member of the Technical Staff, I can assure you that of the 17,000 Google has gotten their hands on, no more than 5 or 10 are worth anything….

I’m not sure if Standard and Poor’s are allowed to be trusted again, but they sure don’t rate the buy as helping increase the value of the stock:

despite MMI’s extensive and valuable patent portfolio, we are not sure it will protect Android from IP issues. We also believe the purchase of MMI would negatively impact GOOG’s growth, margins and balance sheet

Whatever happens, the next 18-24 months are going to interesting. How long the Great Patent War drags on might just depend on how good a buy this Motorola deal is for Google and their business.

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