Google’s Purchase of Motorola Mobility

Although much more than just a patent deal, Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility is also clearly driven by Google’s perceived need to establish a strong portfolio of patent rights in an attempt to ward-off patent attacks by competitors in the fiercely competitive and growing smart-phone market.

Motorola Mobility was formerly the famous Mobile Devices division of Motorola, Inc. In January 2011, the company was spun-off from its parent. The company’s devices have been lagging in the market, but its patent rights have always been strong and plentiful. Recently, Motorola Mobility has become deeply involved in patent infringement litigation with suits pending versus competitors such as Microsoft, Apple, and TiVo in addition to more than two-dozen pending suits as defendants against non-practising patent holders.

Motorola Mobility holds over 24,000 patents and pending patent applications worldwide. In the US market alone, the company holds around 5,000 patents and 1,500 pending patent applications. The bulk of these patents were assigned to Mobility during the split from Motorola. However, the unit has continued to apply-for and obtain patents since the split. Motorola Mobility also owns a number of subsidiary companies that also hold their own patents, such as General Instrument, Inc.

Some pending US litigation:

  • Motorola Mobility v. TiVo (E.D. Tex.): Mobility asserts that TiVo is infringing a number of “fundamental” DVR patents that General Instrument obtained when it purchased Imedia. These include U.S. Patent Nos. 5,949,948, 6,304,714, and 6,356,708.
  • Motorola Mobility v. Microsoft (W.D. Wisc. and ITC): In three separate lawsuits, Mobility asserts that Microsoft’s XBox infringes a number of its patents, including U.S. Patents Nos. 6,980,596; 7,162,094; 5,319,712; 5,357,571; 6,686,931; 5,311,516; 6,069,896; 6,992,580; 7,106,358; 6,686,931; 7,088,220; and 5,738,583.
  • Motorola Mobility v. Apple (S.D. Florida): Mobility asserts that Apple’s iPhone 4 infringes a number of its wireless device and software patents, including U.S. Patents Nos. 5,710,987; 5,754,119; 5,958,006; 6,008,737; 6,101,531; 6,377,161; and 5,455,599. In a separate lawsuit, Apple accuses Mobility of infringing its patent Nos. 5,481,721; 5,566,337; 5,915,131; 5,929,852; 5,946,647; 5,969,705; 6,275,983; 6,343,263; and 6,424,354.

9 thoughts on “Google’s Purchase of Motorola Mobility

  1. It’s completely about protecting Android from patent attack. Why do Google want anything to directly do with hardware?

  2. but I have a gut feeling that they will sell the Motorola cell phone division, or shut it down, and keep the patents.

    It has been reported that the acquisition increases Google’s headcount by 60%.

    Will Google live up to its creed, or will it succumb to the economic Darwinism and rightsize the workforce, but keep the assets?

    Did someone steal a page from Jack Welch’s early career?

  3. I personally think that the only reason they acquired the Motorola was because of the patents. They will now have to assure their other cooperating cell phone partners that they will not discriminate in any fashion against them.

    Generally, I do not think that one can be in the cell phone business and also be a provider of operating systems to other cell phone companies. The other cell phone companies will not long tolerate that.

    However, if they choose to be the next Apple, you can bet they will have soon stop selling operating systems to their competitors. This will fundamentally change the cell phone market.

    I don’t know which way Google will go, but I have a gut feeling that they will sell the Motorola cell phone division, or shut it down, and keep the patents.

  4. Google has tons of money to spend and it’s a logical path of expansion for them, as they make the operating system and Motorola has direct distribution of end products. The IP doesn’t hurt either, and they get all this at a bargain because Motorola is an empty company with a bunch of holdings and outsourcing… it’s not what it was 20 or 30 years ago.

  5. Wait wait Doublespeak, isn’t that true? Doesn’t the ownership status of patents determine whether or not they drive innovation?

  6. Anything that takes Microsoft and Apple down a notch is good for innovation because it’s great for competition.

  7. I realy don’t think this purchase has much to do with IP, it really is about giving Google the entree to the mobile platform more directly that matters. The work through HTC and the rest of the hardware makers just has not been good enough to compete.

    Remember Apple became the biggest company in the country last month…

  8. “Google says that the purchase will drive innovation for the Android platform”

    LULZ – because these patents are ours and it is only those patents not owned by us that do not drive innovation.

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