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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

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