Motorola’s Sanjay Jha openly admits they plan to collect IP royalties from other Android makers

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.

 

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • Rajat

    I think Sanjay Jha has gone mad because today if motorola is surviving is because of Android popularity due to vendor’s like HTC, Samsung etc. & they find alternative(and they will do better than motorola) than I can see that in future we have one big company in our memories name Motorola.

  • Marcus Christopher McFann

    I think Moto is doing the right thing. Moto should force Android to allow them input as Nokia has with Microsoft, or else they dedicate manufacturing capacity to WP7 or even MeeGo. Moto has the IP to do it.
     

  • http://www.staska.net Staska

    And why would Google agree to that? 

    Looking and device shipment volumes, Motorola is now much less important to Android then HTC or Samsung. Sammy’s and HTC’s IP might be weaker – but they have quite few patents too. Moto’s patents are good for Moto, but unless it transfers them to Google – they won’t help Android much. 

    Also I’m pretty sure that better access/input ala Nokia/MSFT won’t help Motorola much. They had preferential/exclusive access to Android 2.0 (Droid), 2.2 Froyo (Droid X) and Honeycomb (Xoom) – didn’t help much against Samsung or HTC then

  • Anonymous

    Why does it have to boil down to suing? HTC and Microsoft came to a settlement for licensing fees rather quickly. At the end of the day, it’s just easier to license Active Sync Exchange than to have to come up with its own technology. Samsung is about to do the same and come to some sort of agreement with MS. Android OEMs will likely come to some sort of settlement with Motorola for using Moto’s IP in their own devices. IBM did this decades ago and it spurred on innovation. Additionally, Motorola is the one OEM that’s completely bought into Android. Samsung and HTC have their fingers in Android and WP7 (with Samsung also using their own OS, Bada). Why not seek licensing fees? It’s better than suing a company out of existence and blocking the shipment/sales/advertising!

  • Marcus Christopher McFann

    I honestly don’t think Google would do it unless Moto’s patent issues with Android are enough of a pain for Android OEMs or Google itself. Then Google would have its partners to protect, or have OEMs diversify their OS portfolios. A development input deal with any patent holders could actually help Google, and Moto, Sammy, and SE could benefit if its done right. But is Google in need of relief that bad? Remains to be seen, but I’m watching.

    You’re right about Moto’s irrelevance for Android, but with HTC and Samsung already in the WP7
    clique, and Moto joining in with the “antiGoogle” movement, its a bad sign for Google.  Add to that more costs for Android IP infringement, and the exodus could increase.

  • http://www.staska.net Staska

    Agreed on suing. All Motorola wants are licensing fees, though whether they can get them without lawsuits as part of negotiating tactics, is up for debate. 

    But licensing fees are also a problem, especially if they are paid per device. Right now it seems MSFT is asking Samsung for $10-15 per Android device in fees. Oracle is reportedly asking $15-20 per device too. Apple is also already suing, and if it wins – per device fee may be even bigger. Then we have Nokia – which already extracted per device fee for each iPhone, and may soon do the same for Android. And then RIM which just spent a lot of cash for Nortel patents and are not very friendly to Android. HP/Palm – which also can benefit from Android troubles and have a lot of smartphone related patents. And now Motorola

    Add all those fees together, and very soon Android cost in patent fees per device may become prohibitive for everything except the very high end devices.  

    http://www.unwiredview.com/2011/07/13/the-real-cost-of-android-potentially-60-per-device-in-patent-fees/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Bell/100001788867831 Mike Bell

    LOL… Android’s pretty much finished. In few years time, no one will build devices for it because of the risk of lawsuits and patent fees. It will be much cheaper to just pay Microsoft $50 and get WP7 with patent indemnification.

  • Albk

    Companies do what is in their own interest. They don’t support some religious ideology just because fans do. Motorola uses Android because it held the potential to save it from the development costs of building and maintaining its own OS. It is not a member of the Android church like many generic Android fans, who just love the green logo man and worship the idea of a free OS. 

  • http://www.iDoiDevices.com Jason Yeaman

    If Google won’t indemnify OEM’s like HTC from patent litigation resulting from Google stealing IP…even straight up copy/paste theft in the android source…why shouldn’t Motorola play businessman in the business place?

    http://www.unwiredview.com/2011/08/01/did-motorola-just-hint-they-are-ready-to-join-android-ip-racket-with-their-own-patent-fee-demands/

  • Scott

    Motorola does this at it’s own peril. It’s barely alive now because of Android. If they drive up Android costs they risk pushing manufacturers and the market to something else. I like Android for a lot of reasons, but I would say that for the typical consumer the differentiator is cost. Consumers see Android devices as a good cheap alternative to an iPhone or iPad. If the costs go up too much then an iPhone or Win Mobile device starts looking pretty good.

  • Scott

    Motorola does this at it’s own peril. It’s barely alive now because of Android. If they drive up Android costs they risk pushing manufacturers and the market to something else. I like Android for a lot of reasons, but I would say that for the typical consumer the differentiator is cost. Consumers see Android devices as a good cheap alternative to an iPhone or iPad. If the costs go up too much then an iPhone or Win Mobile device starts looking pretty good.

  • Steve

    The fact is, all of the lawsuits are frivolous. Apple’s is about physical design, MS against “Active Sync” with their product. NOTHING to do with Android. The core OS, just like LINUX, is unassailable. Lots of noise, NO actual suits (unless you count the Darl M. stupidity), which of course got no where, and even less…..

    All of these other suits are for usability of EXTERNAL features that no company has really ever given away for free. Sync with Exchange, pay MS, sync with iTunes, pay Apple, and so on. Wait till FaceBook / Google+, introduces their own pay “advanced” client. They too will NOT be free to ANY OS, including Android, and if you try to “bundle” it for free, expect them to sue you too.

  • Steve

    The fact is, all of the lawsuits are frivolous. Apple’s is about physical design, MS against “Active Sync” with their product. NOTHING to do with Android. The core OS, just like LINUX, is unassailable. Lots of noise, NO actual suits (unless you count the Darl M. stupidity), which of course got no where, and even less…..

    All of these other suits are for usability of EXTERNAL features that no company has really ever given away for free. Sync with Exchange, pay MS, sync with iTunes, pay Apple, and so on. Wait till FaceBook / Google+, introduces their own pay “advanced” client. They too will NOT be free to ANY OS, including Android, and if you try to “bundle” it for free, expect them to sue you too.

  • Stone

    You don’t get it. Motorola won’t have to pay royalties to itself. They will drive up the cost of Adroid for OTHER vendors against whom they are competing.

  • Stone

    Thing is, nobody sells just the core OS. For your Android phone to be successful, you must sell a product. And a product is much more than the core OS. Do you really think Exchange ActiveSync is optional on a device today?

  • Stone

    I don’t think Moto is interested in “input” into Android. What they want is a competitive advantage against HTC, Samsung, et al, by raising the cost of their competitors’ products.