Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility is looking like a sure thing and that spells trouble for Apple's Android lawsuits.
There are two major kinds of patent lawsuits. On the one side, there are the patent trolls, like Eolas making fundamental Web technology claims . Here, the idea is to use flimsy patents to collect hundreds of millions from the businesses that actually use ideas to make a product or service. Then, there's what Apple has been trying to do to Samsung and other Android vendors: Sue them out of the marketplace. Apple's not been successful at this, but that hasn't stopped them from trying. Indeed, Apple is trying to block Samsung from selling the first Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) phone, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, in the U.S. Apple's lawsuit happy ways may soon come to an end though. The European Union (EU) has cleared Google's proposed purchase of Motorola Mobility.
Why would this make a difference? Because Google won't have the patents it needed to fight Apple until its purchase of Motorola goes through. Getting permission from the EU was the deal's biggest stumbling block. Now, it's almost a sure thing. And, in this second class of patent lawsuits, where software patents are merely ammunition for business wars. Google needed the Motorola's patent ammo to fight off Apple's patent claims.
To be specific, while Google will get thousands of patents from the Motorola acquisition, eighteen of them are already being used by Motorola lawsuits against Apple. They cover technology essential to the mobile-device industry, including location services, antenna designs, e-mail transmission, touch-screen motions, software-application management and 3G data. The 3G wireless patents have already led to Apple no longer being able to sell some iPad and iPhone models in Germany.
Does Apple really want to face the chance of not being able to sell the forthcoming iPad 3 and its iPhones lines in the U.S.? Only if they're idiots!
Unlike Apple, Google has shown that they're willing to make patent peace instead of patent war. To make the EU happy, Google has pledged to license Motorola patents on ffair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND) terms to other mobile manufacturers, even competitors, should the deal succeed. If Apple is smart, they'll stop trying to sue Android out of the marketplace, adopt FRAND practices themselves for their IP, and put all their attention back into delivering the best possible products. Spending more time and money on anti-Android IP lawsuits looks more and more to be a losing game.