Google and patents aren’t necessarily great friends. After all, over the last few years the company has been sued by everyone, their dog, and their dog’s third cousin twice removed. In recent months, allegations of copyright infringement have become more frequent and, if we’re honest, more absurd (with patents, for example, from a company that stopped functioning over a decade ago). Google has gone so far as supporting major patent reform – so it’s strange that they recently bid heavily on a large portfolio of patents.
The patent portfolio is question is being auctioned off by Nortel during that company’s bankruptcy, and Google bid heavily enough in early phases that they became the “stalking-horse.” That means that all other companies will be working from Google’s starting point as they bid on the collection of portfolios.
Why exactly would Google pursue more patent acquisition if they’re simultaneously trying to create major patent reform? According to the official statements, Google feels that “one of a company’s best defenses against this kind of litigation is (ironically) to have a formidable patent portfolio, as this helps maintain your freedom to develop new products and services.” In other words, they’re trying to prevent themselves from being sued and claim more patent space on the technological front.
Additionally, Google states that their efforts here will help protect others in the community from having these patents used against them. This, Google representatives state, should help expand the flexibility and innovation of both the general tech and open source community. Meanwhile, the company’s stance on patent reform has remained unchanged, with the official statement re-stating the stance that “real patent reform .. will benefit users and the U.S. economy as a whole.”
[via the Google Blog]