Google’s top lawyer harangued Apple and Microsoft in a post on the company’s official blog yesterday, saying the two companies had teamed up with its other rivals to wage a “hostile, organized campaign against Android.”
David Drummond, chief legal officer at Google, accused the companies of trying to quash Android’s meteoric rise by buying up patents used to weigh the platform down with licensing fees and file lawsuits against companies that manufacture Android-based devices.
“Android’s success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents,” Drummond said.
Drummond accused the companies of conspiring to buy patents from Novell and Nortel “to make sure Google didn’t get them.”
Apple and Microsoft could not be immediately reached for comment.
Drummond argued that its competitors were using their “dubious” patents to impose a de facto tax on Android smartphones through licensing fees adding up to about $15 per device, according to Google’s estimates. The fees make Android smartphones more expensive to manufacture and ultimately raise prices for consumers, Drummond said.
“Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it,” he said.
Google was recently outbid in an auction of Nortel’s massive patent portfolio on wireless technologies by a group comprised of top tech companies including Apple and Microsoft, which agreed to pay a whopping $4.5 billion for the bankrupt infrastructure vendor’s 6,000 patents. Google also lost out on an attempt to buy a group of patents from Novell after it was outbid by CPTN Holdings, a group of corporations organized by Microsoft.
Microsoft is rebutting Google’s claims about the Novell patents in two posts on Twitter, saying it had actually tried to bring Google on board for a bid on the portfolio.
“Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no,” Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said in a Twitter post.
Google recently bought about 1,000 patents from IBM and is rumored to have considered buying intellectual property giant InterDigital in an effort to stay abreast of the competition.
Smartphone makers who use Android have become easy pickings in court. Patent expert and FOSS Patents blogger Florian Mueller estimated in March that 37 Android-related lawsuits had been filed since 2010, and that number has increased since spring.
Filed Under: Industry regulations