updated 09:40 am EDT, Fri July 29, 2011
Google buys 1,030 IBM patents in first defense
Google showed its first signs of becoming serious about patent defense with a discovery that it had bought 1,030 patents from IBM. The company quietly took on the intellectual property on July 12 and 13. Many are focused on web search, but others are clearly phone related and include chip and memory design, routers, servers, and others.
The SEO by the Sea findings also showed more abstract patents such as object oriented programming and relational databases.
Google hasn't commented on the patent deal.
Its acquisitions may be an admission that its previous and at times still current strategy towards patents may lead to the collapse of Android as a platform. General Counsel Kent Walker has claimed that Google had the "discipline" not to overbid, like it believed the Apple-led Rockstar group did when spending $4.5 billion on Nortel patents. The attitude, which has been cast by Google as a pro-innovation step, may lead to just the opposite as rivals now have access to thousands of patents they can use to sue Google or its partners and either drive up the price of Android or encourage companies to switch.
Google won't necessarily use the patents to strike first but might use them to countersue or to deter companies that know they would be sued back.