The patent wars just got official. Google has posted an official statement blaming Microsoft, Apple and Oracle for carrying out “a hostile, organized campaign against Android.” The post by David Drummond, SVP and Chief Legal Officer at Google, elaborates how Microsoft and Apple first acquired Novell’s old patents, and now Nortel’s patents, just to make sure Google didn’t get them.
Microsoft has been trying to profit at the expense of Android, seeking $15 license fees from Android manufacturers like Samsung for every Android device that they sell. Apple has also been involved in litigation against HTC and Samsung over iPhone design patents.
Google accused them of “attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Mobile; 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.”
David also pointed out how Microsoft and Apple’s anti-competitive strategies are escalating the cost of patents. The price of the Nortel patent portfolio which was estimated to be worth less than a billion dollars was bid up to $4.5 billion. Even InterDigital, the latest company on the block with a large patent portfolio is likely to be sold for more than $5 billion (its market cap just a month ago was less than $2 billion), just for its 8,800 patents.
Even Google has been trying to buy some patents to defend itself against its competitors. “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 â€” and fewer choices for their next phone.”
Google also pointed out that the Nortel story is far from over; that the Department of Justice is ” looking into whether Microsoft and Apple acquired the Nortel patents for anti-competitive means.”
One thing is for certain, with Google taking it public, it’s definitely going to get even more interesting.