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Google Hits Out Over Patent Wars

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Google has decided to take a stance against Apple, Microsoft and Oracle in the escalating patent wars claiming they are waging a "hostile, organised campaign" making Android smartphones more expensive.

Google Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond posted on the Official Google Blog claiming Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and “other companies” are waging a patent war, “waged through bogus patents.”

Drummond claims the companies are doing this by banding together to purchase patents from Novell and Nortel, the latter recently selling for $4.5 billion, well over the $1 billion estimate before the patent auction. Indeed Google itself made an initial bid of $900 million for the Nortel patents.

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Drummond believes these companies are using the patents from Nortel to help them push up the price of Android devices by seeking license fees for every handset sold. HTC has already admitted that it is paying Microsoft a fee, believed to be between $5 and $15, per Android handset sold.

On a positive note for Google, Drummond believes the purchase of the Nortel patents will likely draw regulatory scrutiny as “the law frowns on the accumulation of dubious patents for anti-competitive means.” Drummond even goes on to say that Google is actively seeking to strengthen its own patent portfolio to “preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it.”

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Microsoft has hit back via Twitter with its general counsel, Brad Smith tweeting: “Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no.”

According to Drummond a smartphone might involve as many as “250,000 (largely questionable) patent claims” which gives an indication about the complexity involved and the reason behind the huge amount of money paid for the Nortel patents.

With the Android platform exploding since the launch of the first handset in 2008, it is no surprise that companies like Microsoft and Apple are looking at hitching their wagons to the operating system. Google will be hoping that regulatory scrutiny of the Nortel patents purchase will help ease the pressure on it, but unfortunately we imagine that this is probably just round one of a long patent war.

Source: Official Google Blog

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