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9/15/2011
01:25 PM
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Google Armors Android With More IBM Patents

Google has once again bought patents from IBM to help defend its Android operating system from intellectual property claims.

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Google acquired over 1,000 IBM patents in August, according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records, adding to a war chest of intellectual property the company has been assembling to defend itself, its Android operating system, and its partners from litigation.

The patent reassignment was first noted by search news website SEO By The Sea, which also identified a previous patent transaction between the two companies in July.

Google confirmed that it had acquired the patents but declined to comment beyond that.

Google lost a bidding war with a mobile industry consortium led by Apple for the patent portfolio of bankrupt networking company Nortel in July. The search company sought to buy the patents to help defend against the proliferating patent claims that it and its Android partners face.

In August, Google's chief legal officer David Drummond characterized the situation as a war on Android. "Our competitors are waging a patent war on Android," he said, pointing to Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle, "and working together to keep us from getting patents that would help balance the scales."

Almost two weeks after Drummond's post, Google announced its plan to acquire Motorola Mobility in a deal that provides Google with access to 17,500 patents and 7,500 patent applications.

"Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google's patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies," CEO Larry Page said at the time.

It became clear this month that Google intends to stand by its pledge to defend its Android partners: A week ago, mobile phone maker HTC, which had been sued over its use of Android by Apple, filed its own patent infringement claim against Apple using nine patents it acquired from Google.

In July, HTC acquired graphics hardware maker S3 Graphics just days after S3 won a preliminary patent ruling against Apple.

The war on Android doesn't appear to have diminished its appeal as a low-cost, relatively open platform with considerable developer support: Boeing has reportedly chosen to use Android to power the in-flight entertainment system of its 787 Dreamliner jet.

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