Google whines about getting outbid by Apple on patents

Google whines about getting outbid by Apple on patents

Summary: Apple and Microsoft thought that the Nortel and Novell patents were worth more than Google did, so they paid more for them. Now Google whines about it on its official blog? Sounds like sour grapes.

TOPICS: Legal, Google

If you haven't read it yet, read Google Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond's post When patents attack Android. In it Drummond complains about Google's losing the recent Nortel and Novell patent auctions to rivals Apple and Microsoft.

Drummond believes that Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and others are colluding against Google in "a hostile, organized campaign... waged through bogus patents." He goes on to say:

They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the “Rockstar” group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Phone 7; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.

ZDNet's Larry Dignan notes that Google is lashing out because it's being litigated from all sides:

Google’s Android platform faces legal threats on a number of fronts at the moment, ranging from disputes with Oracle about patent infringement over Java to several manufacturers (namely Samsung and HTC) that have developed mobile devices (i.e. smartphones and tablets) based on Android to be engaged in multiple lawsuits with Apple.

One of Drummond's main points is about the rising prices of patents:

This anti-competitive strategy is also escalating the cost of patents way beyond what they’re really worth. The winning $4.5 billion for Nortel’s patent portfolio was nearly five times larger than the pre-auction estimate of $1 billion.

Who's to say what's "way beyond what they're really worth," anyway? Apple and Microsoft obviously thought that the patents were worth more than Google did, so they paid more for them. It's as simple as that. Google was interested enough to bid pi billion, but when it got outbid it whines about it on its official blog. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

Topics: Legal, Google

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  • They didn't even make a serious bid

    Google's bid numbers were made as jokes. They though that it was funny to bid PI (and according to sources, some other stupid numbers) and somehow they are surprised that they were outbid and not taken serious.
    • RE: Google whines about getting outbid by Apple on patents

      @wackoae "HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it."

      Here's a news flash... Android copied the iPhone there was no innovation there... Samsung and HTC have a history of copying Apple products... they don't innovate... they imitate!
      • RE: Google whines about getting outbid by Apple on patents

        @Masari.Jones - If Apple is so original with their ideas, then why do they at this point still need to pay billions for catologs of other patents in order to threaten Android?

        The whole patent thing is ridiculous and out of control, and started when the USPTO reversed their policy to allow software patents and business method patents. Ridiculous. It has led directly to a stupid and costly war of MAD - mutual assured destruction. You basically have to have an arsenal of patents (doesn't really matter what they are, just lots of them) so that you can threaten the other guys with your arsenal if they should want to sue you with theirs.
      • You can turn that around.


        If Android was so amazing, why was Google willing to put up over 50% more money than what Apple paid for a portfolio of patents?
  • Funny how Google leaves out part of the story.

    With the Novell patents:

    <i>"They?re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell?s old patents"</i>

    Turns out not to be true. Google was offered a position within the group to bid on these patents but Google wanted control of all of them.!/BradSmi/status/98902130412355585

    Likewise, they conveniently leave out the simple fact that 1/3 of the Rockstar group consisted of Android OHA members bidding against Google.

    Google is hoping their non-thinking Google Army will run with this story without fully looking at the picture.
    • RE: Google whines about getting outbid by Apple on patents


      <I>"Google is hoping their non-thinking Google Army will run with this story without fully looking at the picture."</I>

      That's not really working out for them. Almost everyone has chastised Mr. Drummond's post. I have yet to see anyone defend Google over this.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Peter Perry will jump to Google's side

        @Cylon Centurion

        As will almost all on Engadget.
  • RE: Google whines about getting outbid by Apple on patents

    Stop Whining Google. Has the Google lawyer thought of telling his team not to slavishly copy the innovations of others? And they want to buy patents that they did not invent in order to fight against patent infringements that they copied. To hell with Google.. Sue them until they close that junk full of Virus Software.
  • RE: Google whines about getting outbid by Apple on patents

    Sour grapes indeed. Google had their chance to become part of the group and declined then they had the chance to make a serious bid and failed at that. This is typical Google - remember when they filed a suit because Microsoft won the bid for hosting email for the government?

    This is just more of the same behavior.
  • A Tax on all of us

    A patent is contested when a product "possibly" using it is making money for someone. If there is a payoff to the patent holder it becomes part of the price of the product. It can then act as a hidden tax that is paid by anyone who buys that product. When there is a patent war it isn't just the companies that are affected.
    • Do you know what a tax is?


      Would you rather having a free for all where people/companies that try new methods have no ability to capitalize on them as others just sit back, do no R&D and just copy those that do?
    • I think you fail to grasp the point of patents ...


      The point of a patent is to reward companies for being creative and developing new solutions, new technologies.

      If Company A were to spend millions developing some new technology, launches it, then Companies B-Z all instantly copy it and start making a gazillion dollars off it before Company A recoups its millions spent on R&D, Company A may just go under. At the very least, Company A will be unlikely to spend millions again on R&D ... it'll wait for someone else to spend the big bucks and just copy the result. After this happens once or twice, no one will be willing to innovate -- they'll all be waiting for someone else to blow millions -- so the market will stagnate.

      But we have these things called patents. If Company A spends millions to develop some new tech, they can apply for a patent. If granted, the patent provides Company A complete control over the patented technology. It can do everything from only using itself, to letting everyone use it for free. Company A _may_ choose to license the technology to Companies B-Z, and it has every right to ask for any price for that license. Companies B-Z are not necessarily obligated to use Company A's invention -- they can spend millions of their own money to develop a non-infringing alternative. Or they can pay for the license and avoid the time, investment and risk of developing their own alternative.

      A license fee is not a tax, however. It's a fee used by the patent holder to recoup development costs and, perhaps, even turn a profit. Again, they have every right to craft whatever terms they want for the license agreement. The licensee can either absorb the license fee as a cost of goods sold -- it's no different than paying for the glass or plastic that goes into making a cell phone -- or they can choose to not use the licensable technology. Some may choose to illegally use the licensable technology without paying, and they often do so at their own risk and peril. That's where all the infringement lawsuits come in.

      Our patent system may not work perfectly, but without it, companies would have no incentive to innovate. In fact, it would be in their best interests to wait and copy someone else's ideas. And that's certainly not good for consumers.
      • RE: Google whines about getting outbid by Apple on patents

        @jscott69 I agree totally. However the way things work patents affect the cost of the product. Most of the comments here are akin to sports fans rooting for their teams. I was just pointing out that these patent wars may affect the final price that one pays for a product and in so doing have personal consequences for the commentators.
      • @Canticus: Of course patents affect the cost of a product.


        That is the entire point. Are you a software socialist?

        Developing quality software takes time, effort and money. Often, dozens of UI permutations will happen prior to coming up with a single optimized layout that is released. That is not to say there are no other options but the shipped option is darn good.

        The courts have already decided you cannot copyright a design or UI but patents remain the current method of protecting the R&D put into the effort. If you have no real avenue for protecting that investment, companies will no longer put forth the effort and innovation will slow to a crawl.
  • Google == EVIL

    Google is the most evil company on the planet. My rep told me the official talking points are 1) Apple is evil 2) Google is more evil 3) Apple is not evil in this case because they are working with Microsoft. I found this to be quite confusing and needed an immediate infusion of Starbucks and scones to make sure I fully comprehended the full impact of what my rep was telling me.
    Mike Cox
    • Do you believe everything...

      @Mike Cox

      Do you believe everything your I mean.. "rep" tells you mikey?
    • LOL!

      @Mike Cox

      William Farrell
    • RE: Google whines about getting outbid by Apple on patents

      @Mike Cox - You get an 8 for that one Mike!
      The Danger is Microsoft
  • Apple's original ideas

    Since it's obvious that all great original tech ideas originated with Apple, no other tech companies really have a legal right to exist... duh. Anyway, when I bought my Android phone, I could of sworn that I was buying an awesome iPhone, man was I angry!