Google stockpiles weapons of patent destruction

Android creator picks up 1,023 IBM patents

According to a report from Bloomberg, Google has just picked up over one thousand IBM patents in a clear effort to boost its patent defenses against the swarm of smartphone lawsuits being leveled against it and other members of the Android community.

The transfer of the 1,023 patents, which went into effect on Aug. 17, is over and above the 1,030 patents Google picked up from IBM in July.

It's not known how much money was exchanged in either deal, but we do know that Google acquired more than 17,000 patents when it completes the acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

This, coupled with Google's recent moves to partner with Intel to work on Intel-based Android devices, may mean that not only is Google trying to diversify its Android offerings (perhaps because some smartphone vendors are hedging their Android bets), but they're also getting sick and tired of getting pushed around.

No one knows for sure how this will play out, but I have to wonder what might happen in the court-ordered mediation session in one of the bigger fights around Android: Oracle vs. Google. On Monday, Google's Larry Page and Oracle's Larry Ellison will attend the first of what could be several mediation sessions ton try to work this lawsuit out before it goes to a jury trial. The mediation session may be little more than legal theater, but wouldn't you love to see the look on Ellison's face if Page pulls out a recently acquired patent that would potentially blast a hole in one of Oracle's key products?

I know, I'm daydreaming again.

But the outcome may not be so different, albeit far less dramatic. Sooner or later, Google is going to latch onto a gem of a patent (or two or three...) that will force some if not all of the Android plaintiffs to back off or enter a cross-licensing deal with Google.

In the specific Oracle vs. Google case, something will need to happen if Google really wants to avoid the jury phase of the trial. Judge William Alsup just today denied many of Google's motions for summary judgment. It's not a loss per se, though Google would have had to do a lot less work in the trial if these summary motions had been granted, and now Oracle will definitely get its day in court.

Unless, of course, they settle.

As most analysts predicted when this all started, most of these cases will likely end in settlement--if one of these Android vendors or plaintiffs gets a whiff that they might really lose, they'll opt for the more PR-friendly settlement path.

Google's patent moves all point to a stockpiling of patents in the hope of finding the key weapon to make anyone suing them or one of the Android vendors cross-license or settle just as fast as they can.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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