As you have probably heard, a major patent war is raging in mobile industry, and competitors are ganging up on Android, exploiting Google’s weakness in intellectual property assets. Mostly by suing manufacturers of Android devices for various patent infringements. If Google loses in this fight, Android vendors might have to pay $60 per device in patent fees eventually. It’s no wonder many people are worried about Android right now.
Amidst this Android patent insecurity, Motorola recently started touting the strength of its IP portfolio. Nothing surprising here. Motorola is one of the oldest players, with one of the strongest patent portfolios in the industry. Heck, they invented the mobile phone and have been at it for decades. If other mobile industry players decide to go after Motorola’s Android devices, Moto has a lot of patents to retaliate with.
However, things made a turn for the worse few weeks ago. During its Q2 earnings conference call Motorola hinted that it is ready to join Android patent racket, and start demanding licensing fees for its IP from other Android manufacturers.
This week Motorola’s CEO Sanjay Jha reiterated this message, and made it even more clear – they do indeed have plans to start collecting IP royalties from other Android makers.
This is what he said about Motorola, Android and patents during a keynote at Oppenhimer Technology & Commmunications conference:
“ I would bring up IP as a very important for differentiation (among Android vendors). We have a very large IP portfolio, and I think in the long term, as things settle down, you will see a meaningful difference in positions of many different Android players. Both, in terms of avoidance of royalties, as well as potentially being able to collect royalties. And that will make a big difference to people who have very strong IP positions.”
I see very little ambiguity in those words. The discussion above was solely about Android, and how Motorola can differentiate from other players who are already doing better – like HTC and Samsung. One of the key points to win against competition, according to Sanjay Jha, are Motorola’s patents. Used not only defensively – to avoid paying royalties on its Android handsets, but also offensively. To collect royalties from other Android device makers.
Doesn’t sound very good for Android’s future. If key Android vendors start demanding patent royalties and suing each other, this patent thing can get even messier then it is now, kill Android growth, and push vendors to alternative platforms.
It’s time for Google to step up.
C’mon, Larry, the foundation of your mobile OS is now on a rapidly shifting sand. Just buy Motorola or some other big patent pool.
Or all the gains Android made these past two years will disappear very soon.
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