Google buys IBM patents as Samsung and Apple trade more lawsuits  

Posted by Daniela Mehler

Google has purchased 1,023 patents from IBM to help it fight back in the patent wars. Meanwhile, one analyst says Motorola Mobility blackmailed Google into paying a high price for the company, Samsung and Apple have traded Galaxy Pad-related lawsuits in France and Japan, respectively, and analysts are debating which company had the most to gain from this week's Android pact between Google and Intel.

Aiming to improve its patent portfolio against mobile-related lawsuits, Google purchased 1,023 patents from IBM, reports Bloomberg , pointing to a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office web page where the transactions were recorded. Neither Google nor IBM would comment on the purchase, according to the story, which says the deal follows up on a similar Google purchase of 1,030 IBM patents in July.

Google recently sold nine mobile patents to HTC to help the Android device vendor defend against an Android-related lawsuit from Apple. Google will acquire some 17,000 patents as part of its planned $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, Inc. (MMI) .

Motorola blackmailed Google into acquisition, suggests analyst

In Florian Mueller's latest analysis of the Google/Motorola acquisition in FOSS Patents this week, the open source legal expert argues that Google was strong-armed into paying a high price by Motorola.

"This wasn't about MMI telling Google: 'buy us, and together we'll protect the Android ecosystem'," writes Mueller. "This was more like MMI telling Google: 'buy us, or else we'll immediately do three or four things that will make sense for us but be absolutely devastating for Android'."

The four threats made Motorola posed Google were as follows, writes Mueller:

taking a royalty-bearing patent license from Microsoft, and possibly also settling with Apple.

revisiting its exclusive focus on Android and possibly adopting Windows Phone.

attacking other Android device makers with its patents to make their products more expensive.

conducting a public or private auction of the entire company or large parts of its patent portfolio. While all these motivations have been at least hinted at by Mueller and/or others in the aftermath of the acquisition announcement, this is the first time someone has accused Motorola of engaging in what is essentially corporate blackmail. For "proof," Mueller offers a combination of public statements and a recently unveiled SEC filing.

As usual with Mueller's controversial posts, the blog posting makes for interesting reading -- at least compared to the typical jargon-infested legal analysis technology journalists are increasingly forced to study.

Samsung sues Apple in France, Apple sues Samsung in Japan

Samsung filed a legal complaint in France against Apple, extending a worldwide courtroom battle in which both companies accuse the other of intellectual-property violations, according to a Nicholas Kolakowski report in our sister publication eWEEK .

"The complaint focuses on three technology patents, and not on the design of the tablets," a Samsung spokesperson was quoted as saying. No more details were offered except that the first hearing is scheduled for December.

Samsung and Apple have fired lawsuits at each other in a number of countries, including the U.S. and Australia. Both sides claim their rival's products violate existing patents, but Apple has taken its complaints one step further by accusing Samsung of copying its designs, as well.

Google buys IBM patents as Samsung and Apple trade more lawsuits

In Germany in early August, Apple won a preliminary injunction against Samsung on the grounds of patent infringement, forcing the latter to halt production of the Android-based Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet (pictured) in that country. Earlier this month, Samsung withdrew the device from the IFA trade show in Berlin, with a spokesperson quoted as saying Samsung respected "the court’s decision."

The legal battle has even extended to Japan, where Apple asked a court to ban a selection of Samsung devices within that country. Unnamed sources told Reuters Sept. 8 that Apple "has filed suit with the Tokyo District Court seeking the suspension of sales of Galaxy S and its sequel S II smartphones and the Galaxy Tab 7."

Google/Intel pact mostly helps Intel, say analysts

Google buys IBM patents as Samsung and Apple trade more lawsuits

Against this backdrop of acquisitions and patent-related legal troubles for Google and its Android OEM partners, Intel and Google revealed a long-term strategic pact earlier this week at its Intel Developer Forum (IDF). Intel CEO Paul Otellini (pictured) and Google SVP Andy Rubin jointly showed off a prototype smartphone running Android on Intel's "Medfield" Atom chip, as well as a Medfield-based tablet prototype running Android.

According to the executives, the first Intel-based Android smartphones will arrive in the first half of 2012. And Intel posted a YouTube video indicating that Android 2.3 would be fully ported to the Intel Atom E6xx processor by January.

Now analysts are looking for deeper meaning in the pact. In eWEEK's "Intel, Google Alliance Will Fuel Chip Maker's Mobility Push" , Jeffrey Burt surveys analysts on the topic. Most seemed to agree that Google should effectively fill the vacuum left when Nokia abandoned the Linux-based MeeGo project that the phone vendor jointly ran with Intel.

Burt quotes Greg Richardson, an analyst with Technology Business Research, as saying Google's intention to acquire Motorola Mobility was key to Intel's decision to push the partnership.

Already, the chipmaker had begun to back away from MeeGo at least with phones, and now it seems to be backing away from MeeGo tablets as well. The company has denied rumors, however, that it is selling its MeeGo assets to Samsung , and Otellini noted at IDF that MeeGo's main focus may well be in automotive infotainment.

Burt quotes Roger Kay, principal analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, as saying "MeeGo is quietly slipping into the background."

In a separate analysis piece on Sept. 14, called "Google and Intel: Who Needs Whom More?" , eWEEK's Clint Boulton poses just that question to analysts. Most replied: "Intel."

"Intel needs Google more than the other way around," Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart told Boulton.

Meanwhile, industry analyst Roger Kay told eWEEK that Intel needs Google as much as Microsoft needs ARM. "Google has lots of distribution without Intel," Kay was quoted as saying. However, he went on to note that "Google gets silicon optimization for its OS. Eventually, Atom may be a better platform than ARM. Google has to hedge its bets."

Indeed, Google also has something to gain here, noted analyst Jack Gold. "Any help Intel provides Google for use on x86 will also help Android running on ARM since the technology will be repurposed," said Gold.

This entry was posted on 3:20 PM .