Less than two weeks ago, Apple was part of a consortioum of tech companies who acquired over 6,000 patents from Nortel. Together with EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, RIM, and Sony, the winning bid was $4.5 billion. Lost in the shuffle, notably, was Google whose bids reached up into the billions but couldn’t compete with the combined weight of the aforementioned tech giants.
Recently, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt pointed the finger at Apple and co. for purchasing patents instead of innovating. Now we’re all for innovation and can’t stand the NPE’s like Lodsys who make money simply by acquiring patents and going on litigation frenzies, but can you really accuse a company like Apple of not innovating?
“I’m worried and or disappointed that we’ve gotten to this point in the industry,” Schmidt explained. “We chose not to bid at that level. I presume people spent $4.5bn to do something with them. They didn’t just wake up and say ‘oh, we’d like to have this patent portfolio’. I don’t know what their intent is, but we, as a company, worry that this is an attempt to use patents rather than to innovate.”
That’s corporate spin for ya, especially when, again, Google was vying intently itself for rights to Nortel’s patents.
Google’s Android mobile OS is of course under attach from a number of different directions and given Google’s relatively scarce patent portfolio, the Nortel auction was arguably a significant missed opportunity for the search giant.
Going forward, though, Schmidt hinted that Google may very well acquire patent portfolios from other vendors.
Now that the value of patents appears to have increased a great deal based on these data points, there are lots of people that have patents that are available. We have a lot of patents. If the answer is tonnage, I think we’ll be fine.
But only Google will be able to innovate concurrently, right?
via Financial Times