Patent wars: going after Google

It’s enough to make you wonder: six thousand patents held by a company gone bankrupt. The company is Nortel Networks which means the patents cover telecommunications – cell phone technologies. Gringley describes the stakes in The enemy of my enemy.

The bidding, which began with a $900 million offer from Google, went far higher than most observers expected and only ended, I’m guessing, when Google realized that Apple and its partners had deeper pockets and would have paid anything to win. This transaction is a huge blow to Google’s Android platform, which was precisely the consortium’s goal.

Google’s Android smart phone software is already under attack with something like 45 intellectual property lawsuits. Its competitors had to gang up to obtain the money needed to out-bid Google on the Nortel patents. A part of what they get is protection from each other. Having a patent portfolio these days, or being in a group that has one, is not just an access to technology, it is a weapon to use in a way much reminiscent of the MAD or mutual assured destruction philosophy of the cold war. This is rather far afield from the original intent of the government sanctioned patent.

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