Patent Conspiracy Theorists

4:40 PM The back-and-forth battle between Google and Microsoft is turning into a Ping-Pong game of patent pandering

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

August 4, 2011

2 Min Read
Patent Conspiracy Theorists

4:40 PM -- Things got ugly Wednesday when Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Chief Legal Officer David Drummond took to blogging to call out its competitors, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and others, for waging war against Android through so-called "bogus patents." (See Google Slams Android Patent Attackers.)

But, surprisingly, Microsoft's heads of PR shot backThursday with an email shared via Twitter that shows Microsoft invited Android into the fold to bid on Novell patents, but Android declined.

So, it'd appear there wasn't much conspiring going on after all. But Drummond responded with an update to the blog late Thursday, claiming Microsoft is only diverting attention. He writes:

  • If you think about it, it’s obvious why we turned down Microsoft’s offer. Microsoft’s objective has been to keep from Google and Android device-makers any patents that might be used to defend against their attacks. A joint acquisition of the Novell patents that gave all parties a license would have eliminated any protection these patents could offer to Android against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners. Making sure that we would be unable to assert these patents to defend Android -- and having us pay for the privilege -- must have seemed like an ingenious strategy to them. We didn’t fall for it.

Regardless of who was duping whom, this fight wouldn't be getting so vocal if so much money weren't on the table. Competition in the smartphone space is intense, and the handset vendors will stop at nothing - even public social media fights - to preserve their bottom line. (See Handset Vendors' Q2 Scorecard and Handset Makers Air Patent Grievances.)

Drummond looks a little silly in his positioning of Google as the victim and the good guy in all this, but one thing he wrote rings true: patents were meant to encourage innovation, not be used as a weapon to stop it. Innovating and duking it out in the courtroom don't have to be mutually exclusive, but the presence of the latter could prove to hurt the former. (See Wireless Competition's Courtside Seats .)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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