Patent expert David Martin states that 30 percent of patents
are for things that have already been invented. Contradictory as that may seem,
it is causing companies to collect patents in order to protect themselves from
On Monday Google announced plans to buy Motorola for $12.5
billion in cash, giving them access to thousands of patents as well as phone
hardware. Some consider Google’s move as patent stockpiling, others consider it
a precursor to a shift towards a proprietary operating system. This would
eventually lock out many of the companies currently hosting Android.
At the moment, Android claims 500,000 new users a day, far
surpassing the iPhone and Blackberry. The operating system is free for
cellphone manufacturers but phone prices are on the rise — companies are now
paying licensing fees and being sued for patent infringement, hence Google’s
move to acquire more patents.
So far, Android phone manufacturers have supported the purchase
as a protective measure against pricey litigation. The acquisition of
Motorola’s estimated 17,000 patents will certainly be an asset to Google’s
partners and their arsenal against companies such as Apple.
Yet some are wondering: Could a move to protect against
patent litigation turn into an antitrust nightmare?