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Google letter criticizes Apple, Microsoft patent hunts

updated 04:00 pm EDT, Wed August 3, 2011

Claims 'hostile' campaign against Android

Google senior VP and chief legal officer David Drummond has published an open letter criticizing the rush on patents in the mobile industry. "Android is on fire," he writes. "More than 550,000 Android devices are activated every day, through a network of 39 manufacturers and 231 carriers. Android and other platforms are competing hard against each other, and that's yielding cool new devices and amazing mobile apps for consumers. But Android's success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents."

Drummond refers specifically to the consortiums that were formed to buy patents from Novell and Nortel; in both cases, Apple and Microsoft were prominent members. The goal was to "make sure Google didn't get them [the patents]," the letter alleges. Drummond also complains about things like Microsoft demanding that companies like Samsung pay licensing fees for Android phones.

"Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it," the VP continues. "A smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 (largely questionable) patent claims, and our competitors want to impose a 'tax' for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers. They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices. Instead of competing by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation.

"This anti-competitive strategy is also escalating the cost of patents way beyond what they're really worth. Microsoft and Apple's winning $4.5 billion for Nortel's patent portfolio was nearly five times larger than the pre-auction estimate of $1 billion. Fortunately, the law frowns on the accumulation of dubious patents for anti-competitive means -- which means these deals are likely to draw regulatory scrutiny, and this patent bubble will pop."

Drummond says Google is "encouraged" that the Department of Justice forced a change in the terms of the Novell deal, and investigating whether Apple and Microsoft bought the Nortel patents for anti-competitive reasons. "We're also looking at other ways to reduce the anti-competitive threats against Android by strengthening our own patent portfolio. Unless we act, consumers could face rising costs for Android devices --- and fewer choices for their next phone," the letter concludes. Recently it was revealed that Google acquired 1,030 IBM patents in July.

by MacNN Staff



  1. TomSawyer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    In what alternate universe

    are patents meant to ENCOURAGE competition? I think Drummond was misquoted and someone mistakenly substituted competition for litigation.

  1. viktorob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Hey David

    Couldn't be that Apple invested more than 100 millions dollars and years of investigation to develop the first iPhone and they want something in return for the program that you just rip off in your android?
    I mean, if you invest 100 thousands on your car, will you just borrow it to any one who ask for it for free?
    I know you get al your software for free, but it cost a lot to a lot of people. And those companies need that money to improve it even more. Where was your android and app store before the iPhone even existed?
    Where were accelerometer before the iPhone?
    And after all android makes copied the idea of putting accelerometers into their phones, where was the gyroscopes? No body used it until apple put it into the iPhone 4.
    And so on. It was the iPhone the one who change the mobile era, not the android.

  1. Eldernorm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Such a joke LOL

    What a load of c**p. Let us steal your stuff and make it look like yours but cheaper, so when it breaks, everyone will blame you and buy another cheap knock off from us.

    Patents were meant to LET people innovate safely not MAKE them innovate so you could steal their stuff.

    Just a thought here .

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Drummond is shooting himself in the foot and mouth

    He whines about the Nortel patents and the next thing we read is Google's acquisition of IBM patents, a thousand of them!
    Apple did its innovation, Google did not as we know of the Oracle lawsuit for improper use of Java. Google basically wants to play by THEIR own rules and anyone else's are bogus. Ha. I don't think so. Google has that "free" mentality that others do not necessarily subscribe to. Developing the iPhone cost Apple a bundle, and very little for Android to and Google to copy what it does. It's not about innovation since what innovation is there from Android? Google came LATE to the table and they believe "crying" will help them. Their logic is broken.

  1. cashxx

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Google Sucks...whine some more

    The more I look at the history of google and how they copied the iPhone and how its ok when they buy patents, but when they are out bid they get unhappy. I don't think they have a right to any patents all they have done is copied iOS! I don't believe in suing and all that c*** but I hope Apple sues the h*** out of all the Google companies supporting Android OS. They did the same thing Microsoft did with MacOS.

  1. chas_m



    Wow, victim much Google?

    Suffice it to say that while most of us also have problems with the present patent and IP systems, Google has no standing and zero credibility to take the position of victim here.

    His note reads like someone who's never, ever dealt with real-world competition before and doesn't like it much. The only proper response I can come up with is "yeah, life sucks and then you die, pal."

  1. sgirard

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Didn't Google bid $3.14159 Billion for the Nortel Patents? Sore losers, maybe?
    Patents are valid until proven otherwise; it's a stretch to call a patent "bogus" until it's had it's day in court.
    Isn't the point of a patent to allow the patent holder a time-limited monopoly on an invention?

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Kiddie game is down the street

    Yup. All this grown-up talk of patents and litigation and stuff is hard to understand. But it's part of life in The Big City.

    The kiddie game is down the street. Over there, you can just yell "Yay! Open!" really loud over and over and cover your ears. Eventually the other kids will just leave and you'll be the winner.

  1. davesmall

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What Drummond neglected to mention

    What Drummond neglected to mention is that Android's success is almost totally based on theft of Apple's ideas, concepts, and intellectual property. Android is an iPhone knock-off, nothing more, nothing less.

    Google was working on a smart phone before the iPhone. It was going to look a lot like Microsoft's old stuff and Blackberry. When the iPhone came out, they did a major change in direction. Shame on them for such outrageous copying.

  1. chas_m



    Call the WAAAHmbulance!

    We got a victim!! :)

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