Google Dumps Moto's LTE Patents in a Pool

Google is putting the gaggle of patents it gained through its 2011 acquisition of Motorola Mobility to work by joining the Via Licensing LTE Patent Pool, an aggregation of LTE patents from many key wireless players.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) announced Thursday that it is joining Via Licensing Corp. 's LTE patent group, which pools together LTE wireless patents to offer all its members "fair, predictable and cost-effective royalties" for the use of any of them. Its goal is to reduce the risk of patent litigation, a common occurrence between handset makers in the wireless industry.

Google will be chipping in the LTE standard essential patents it got from Motorola. While it sold the handset maker to Lenovo Group Ltd. (Hong Kong: 992) in 2014, less than three years after it acquired it, Google sold the business, but retained most of its valuable patents. (See Lenovo Closes Moto Mobility Buy From Google and Google Buying Moto Mobility for $12.5B.)

It will now be sharing them with Via's members, including AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), Clear Wireless, Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), DTVG Licensing, HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), KDDI Corp. , NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM), SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM), Telecom Italia (TIM) , Telefónica and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763). In return, it can license their patents at a reasonable fee, which will be equally beneficial to Google and its handset partners.

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Google has reportedly been planning to launch its own wireless service as an MVNO on Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. 's networks with free international roaming, but its membership in the Via patent pool is more about protecting its Android operating system and the device makers that use it, as well as bringing in lucrative patent licensing deals for all its members. (See Report: Google Planning Overseas Roaming Shake-Up and Google Confirms Scaled-Down MVNO Plans.)

Patent litigation between Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Android device makers and others has been rampant in the past several years, and this will hopefully help cool some of the IP infringement accusations. Rockstar is a similar patent group that Microsoft and BlackBerry participate in to achieve the same mission. The Via patent pool covers all forms of mobile devices, including Internet of Things devices that rely on LTE like connected cars. (See Rockstar Group Unloads Patents for $900M, Rockstar Patent Holders Sue Google & Friends, Apple, Google Seek Patent Shields and Apple vs. Android Patent Spat Goes Global.)

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mhhf1ve 4/13/2015 | 4:16:06 PM
An alternative to the patent thicket.. but... It's not clear what the ramifications of this deal will really be. It depends on how this pool organization behaves, too. It could itself become a NPE troll and start suing companies with its IP portfolio, but I assume there are philosophical alignments with Google (and contract terms) that prevent that from happening. 

As long judges in places like East Texas are willing to rule in favor of various patent trolls.. creating these patent pool organizations is just an alternative way to try to avoid patent shakedowns. 

Perhaps fixing the patent-granting system that allows for overly-broad patents to be allowed in the first place would be a better solution, methinks.
Mitch Wagner 4/10/2015 | 11:59:07 AM
Re: litigation slow down Quieted down? Or have we just gotten used to the noise, like people who live on airport approaches who just get used to the big jumbo jets screaming by overhead every few minutes?
sarahthomas1011 4/9/2015 | 3:03:22 PM
litigation slow down I do think all the patent drama has quieted down in the past year versus the couple before that. I wonder how much it had to do with patent groups like Via and Rockstar, or if it has slowed because drastic changes to device styles and OSs aren't coming quite as fast as they used to.
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