A Foregone Conclusion: Intellectual Property Analysis of Google’s Motorola Mobility Patent Acquisition
Motorola Mobility has a substantial quantity of uncited precedent innovation that could affect the quality of its intellectual property assets, with nine of the eighteen “stars of the portfolio” patents asserted against Apple last year appearing to be impaired. It is apparent that Google’s purchase relies on quantity over quality for its justification, as only half of their stars have much substance.
On August 15, Google announced plans to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. Google contended that one of the purposes for this purchase (in line with its previous acquisition of IBM patents) was to protect the Android platform and its licensees against patent litigation. This purchase was reportedly valuable in an effort to support Google’s position in mobile hardware. It is reasonable to question whether handset makers, such as HTC and Samsung, will continue to use the Android platform if a Google-owned Motorola begins to dominate the Android handset market. This acquisition also places Google into the "home devices and video solutions business," which could boost Google TV, its interactive television product.
The Motorola Mobility acquisition sheds light on what happens when companies perceive that they are forced to participate in a broken patent system. Unfortunately for Google, buying companies and their patent portfolios could merely be putting on a life jacket to prepare for a flood. As long as questionable patents continue to be issued by the USPTO, lawsuits will continue unabated inside and outside of the mobile phone market. One can wonder how advanced our phone technology might be if the focus of the mobile device giants were directed more toward innovation and less towards patent litigation.
A variety of analyses using the M•CAM DOORS™ platform were performed on Motorola Mobility’s patent portfolio. A commercial analysis was performed, using the M•CAM proprietary unstructured data mining algorithm, which showed at least 48% of the newly acquired Motorola Mobility patents as potentially inadequate to protect Google and its corporate activities. Additionally, an analysis of the portfolio by U.S. patent classification code reveals the top technology spaces in which Google may enter or defend its technologies. A significant portion of the Motorola Mobility patent portfolio covering home and video devices is derived from the U. S. patent classification “recording, communication, or information retrieval equipment”. Further, an analysis was performed on the innovation space surrounding the portfolio, revealing the top twenty holders of uncited precedent innovation. Finally, we look at the strength and defensibility of the eighteen patents that Motorola Mobility asserted against Apple in October of last year; the patents that some are saying may “prove most useful in Google Inc. (GOOG)’s effort to fend off litigation targeting the Android mobile platform.”ShareThis