Online sources are reporting that Google might be on its way to sell all the hardware divisions of Motorola Mobility.
This could be an indication that the company has no interest in getting into the hardware manufacturing business and they only went for Motorola for the patents.
The company has been reportedly trying to sell the cable set top box business for a while already. And now we hear that they are in talks to sell the mobile manufacturing business to Huawei!
Google paid around USD 12 billion for Motorola Mobility. They gained access to around 17000 patents from this deal. Google has said it several times that they would not be involved in the phone manufacturing business of the company. The idea was to not alienate other companies manufacturing devices based on the Android platform.
Now it looks like they have no interest in the mobile phone operations of Motorola Mobility. They both the company for their patents and are now getting rid of the manufacturing businesses to recover some of their investments!
AOL has confirmed that they have sold around 800 patents to Microsoft.
The deal is worth around 1 billion dollars.
AOL gets a perpetual license to all these patents so Microsoft cannot sue them with any of these patents in the future.
AOL said in a note to their employees:
This process of unlocking the value of our patent portfolio, that we began last fall, is a significant example of focusing our time and energy around strengthening our company’s balance sheet and unlocking value for our shareholders. Most importantly, this is another step forward for the comeback of AOL and allows us to remain laser-focused on our strategy and future growth. As always, we know that our growth will be driven by the successful execution against our strategy and we will continue to take aggressive steps to move the company forward.
We are not sure selling patents to a business rival is a step to move the company forward.
Google has done it before and now Facebook seems to be doing it.
Facebook is reportedly buying around 750 patents from IBM to counter the patent infringement lawsuit filed by Yahoo against it.
Google has in the past acquired thousands of patents from IBM to counter similar lawsuits targeting their Android platform.
The deal is currently a rumor though we would find out soon enough.
Facebook just recently launched their IPO and this is a real bad time for them to face a lawsuit like this. But looking at the resources they have and they are trying to acquire, they should be well prepared to take on Yahoo.
Yahoo is not in good shape. This is a well-known fact. The company is now becoming an object of ridicule as they have just filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook.
Yahoo claims Facebook is infringing on as many as 10 patents owned by them.
This comes just as Facebook has filed for a mega IPO worth around USD 100 billion. Facebook spoke about the lawsuit: “We’re disappointed that Yahoo, a longtime business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation.”
Yahoo on their part said: “Unfortunately, the matter with Facebook remains unresolved and we are compelled to seek redress in federal court.”
Patent lawsuits are becoming very common in the web and mobile space. It is pretty clear that you cannot really launch any new web or mobile project without infringing on someone’s copyright in the US market.
Google has received the necessary approvals from the European Union approval to acquire the Motorola Mobility division from Motorola.
The deal is worth around USD 12.5 billion and is the largest in the history of the search engine giant.
Google has admitted that one of the major reasons to acquire this company was to get hold of their patents.
Google is under massive pressure from patent lawsuits attacking their Android mobile platform from companies like Microsoft and Apple.
It is not clear if Motorola Mobility patents would end their problems though it is a good but expensive start for the company.
Google has also been buying a lot of patents from IBM related to mobile technologies for the same.
Nest Labs is known for their rather fascinating Nest thermostat that they have been selling for a couple of months now.
The company is now a target of a patent infringement lawsuit by Honeywell International.
Honeywell International claims that Nest is infringing on several of their owned patents. Here is a list describing the patents. You can see how absurd some of these are:
U.S. Patent No. 7,634,504 - this patent was filed in 2006 (issued 2009) and covers displaying grammatically complete sentences while programming a thermostat.
U.S. Patent No. 7,142,948 - this patent was filed in 2004 (issued 2006) and covers a thermostat figuring out and displaying how long it will take to get to a specific setting, like temperature. The Nest definitely has this feature; it’s a main selling point of the device.
U.S. Patent No. 7,584,899 - this patent was filed in 2006 (issued 2009) and covers a thermostat with a face movable (e.g., rotated or turned) around a central display. The display shows a change in a setting as the face is moved.
U.S. Patent No. 7,159,789 - this patent was filed in 2004 (issued 2007) and covers a thermostat having a rotating selector, a potentiometer and a non-rotating element (like a display) on the front face. The non-rotating element is fixed to the thermostat housing with a support member offset relative to the rotating selector.
U.S. Patent No. 7,159,790 - this patent was filed in 2004 (issued 2007) and covers a thermostat having two laterally-offset rotation axes. (The Nest doesn’t have these, as far as we can tell — we’ll see what Honeywell means by this.)
U.S. Patent No. 7,476,988 - this patent was filed in 2005 (issued 2009) and covers a power stealing system that transfers power from the switch to a storage device when the switch is off, and powers the controller from a secondary power supply if the power at the storage device is insufficient.
U.S. Patent No. 6,975,958 - this patent was filed in 2003 (issued 2005) and covers a method of controlling an environmental control system from a remote to adjust the settings of the system.
Nest has not yet responded on this lawsuit.
Apple is reportedly turning its attention on the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone with a new patent claim.
The company is apparently basing this new claim on their recently acquired slide-to-unlock patent.
Galaxy Nexus is the first smartphone in the market to feature the latest Google Android Ice Cream Sandwich edition.
And the slide to unlock mechanism on the phone is the core feature of the Android platform.
Google changed the feature massively in Android ICS compared to previous generations of the platform but the basic functionality remains the same… User has to slide a virtual button to unlock the phone.
It is not clear how it is remotely possible to get around this patent.
Google continues to enhance their patent portfolio by acquiring them from IBM.
Online sources say that Google acquired around 187 patents in addition to 36 patent applications from the tech giant last month.
Google had acquired a lot more patents last year mostly for their Android platform.
The newly acquired patents are also related to mobile technologies essentially.
Google has become a whole lot more serious about patents after being attacked from all sides for patent infringement.
The company announced they were acquiring Motorola Mobility last year to boost their mobile patents portfolio.
Apple won a small battle as the US International Trade Commission banned sales of some HTC smartphones and Tablets in the US market because of patent infringement reasons.
HTC has responded that the issues in question are minor ones and they would release software updates to work around them to ensure that the devices remain on sale in the US market.
The devices included in the ban are: Sprint Evo 4G, Verizon Droid Incredible, AT&T Aria, and T-Mobile G2.
The bad news is that the issues found to be in infringement are part of the core Android experience and hence Apple could now easily target every other Android phone maker in the US market.
The ban would go in effect from April 19, 2012. HTC and Google have enough time to respond to the problems. But the core issue remains… The patents involved are too broad and they can be used to target more companies and mobile platforms in the future.
Apple had the usual yada yada to say after the victory:
We think competition is healthy but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.
Google has fresh lawsuits targeting it and their products.
British Telecom has filed a lawsuit claiming that Google Android and a bunch of their online products and services are infringing on their owned patents.
Google has not responded to this lawsuit yet but we believe that they are going to fight it out in the courts.
11-12-15 BT v Google Complaint
The patents in question are pretty old and broad and Google is definitely not the only company with services that are somehow related to them. We might see BT launching more such lawsuits in the coming weeks.
It does not matter what Google or BT would do… The lawyers are already winning.