Google’s stand against patent wars: Motorola acquisition, legal interventions

by Kristen Nicole

Google has been driven to drastic measures thanks to the hoards of lawsuits looking to bring down its mobile Android platform. The latest development in this massive mobile war is Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a company spun-off by Motorola in the past year. It’s a move that lets Google boost up its patent defenses as Apple and Microsoft seek retribution from Android’s success, and also gives Google its very own handset manufacturer to further its extended goals in the mobile industry.

Google’s battle goes further than Motorola buy

And the timing couldn’t be better for Google, as Android faces a tough battle against its rivals. A string of early mistakes seems to have left Android and its supporters vulnerable to patent lawsuits, from Oracle to Apple. The battle against Oracle has become a fight for ad revenues, with Oracle now asking a California court to let it conduct a probe of Google’s business model to prove Android’s worth. Oracle’s seeking billions in damages in this ongoing case, as well as royalties based on revenue generated by Android. Google has called Oracle’s demands outrageous, and the efforts to determine Android’s real potential becomes a blessing and a curse for the company.

Google defends Android developers against “patent trolls”

And it’s not just Google that suffers. Handset makers including HTC and Samsung have faced their own series of patent suits for their use of Android, with Microsoft and Apple pushing licensing agreements to take a cut of Android device sales. But developers are getting the blunt end of the stick, too. Google is coming forward to help its extended ecosystem, intervening in one of the more recent intellectual property disputes. It’s filed a request with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to reexamine two patents asserted by Lodsys, a Texas-based patent firm that’s got it out for 11 Android developers. Not surprisingly, the patents deal with another growing trend in the space: mobile payments.

Lodsys claims patents 7,222,078 and 7,620,565 cover the use of in-app payments technology, enabling users to make transactions within the app itself. It’s a tactic that’s becoming especially useful for mobile game developers, and is certain to increase in popularity as in-app transactions facilitate virtual goods markets, new forms of advertising, and more middleman revenue opportunities for developers, publishers, carriers and even Google itself.

“We’ve asked the US Patent Office to reexamine two Lodsys patents that we believe should never have been issued,” Google senior vice president and general counsel Kent Walker told Wired.com in a statement. “Developers play a critical part in the Android ecosystem and Google will continue to support them.”