Feeds

Has Google wasted $12bn on a dud patent poker-chip?

Larry Page's Moto bluff fails to convince

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Analysis It's all about patents, says Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page. Google insists that it bought Motorola to shore up its Android platform, which is caught in a litigious pincer movement from old buddies Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison. Microsoft is merely egging them on the sidelines as the manbags fly, shouting: "Fight!"

But analysts I've spoken to are already wondering how much due diligence Google performed before the announcement, or whether the Motorola acquisition will turn out to rival Terra's legendary, rushed purchase of EMI. Here's why.

Android is a copycat platform. The APIs copy Java, and the UI copies Apple's iPhone. Oracle believes Google has violated Java IP, which it acquired with Sun Microsystems. Google says the language, and a third of Android's API's are "derivative" of Java. On the other warpath, Apple has launched three dozen lawsuits relating to usability and UI. Apple is hurling these lawsuits at Android licensees, rather than at Google itself. Google has refused to indemnify its partners, causing much nervousness.

But Motorola's IP war chest does not help Google here. It is poor where it needs to be rich. It is no help at all in the Oracle battle, which (alas) as many people have forgotten today, is largely about copyrights not patents. The Motorola patent war chest could only help Google against Apple by opening up a new front, with retaliatory litigation which threatens every rival handset manufacturer. But have a look where Motorola patents' strengths are: radio engineering and design. The most vital radio patents are already covered by existing patent pools.

Bear in mind, too, that Nokia has a patent portfolio that is as strong as – or stronger than – Motorola's. Nokia executives believed it was so strong it would derail the Cupertino upstart. But when Nokia and Apple settled last month, Nokia barely came out ahead, with a one-off payment of €430m.

These radio and design patents of legacy manufacturers such as Motorola or Nokia really aren't worth quite as much as their owners think they are.

Google has paid $12.5bn for a negotiating chip that appears to be almost impossible to redeem. In this light, the acquisition looks like panic, rather than a calm and carefully deliberated strategy. Google didn't take IP seriously, bidding silly numbers (such as pi billion dollars) for the Nortel patents. Then it realised it might be in trouble, and so went out and bought some IBM patents. Now it has splurged $12.5bn, truly believing the IP is going to be useful.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
Microsoft EU warns: If you have ties to the US, Feds can get your data
European corps can't afford to get complacent while American Big Biz battles Uncle Sam
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.