Focused on Android, Google's Legal Chief Cries Foul in Novell Patent Grab

by Sam Dean - Aug. 04, 2011Comments (3)

This week, market researchers at Canalys revealed data that showed that Google's Android mobile OS owns almost half of the global smartphone market. That's a big success by anyone's metrics, especially for a mobile OS that is only a few years old. However, David Drummond, Google's Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, writes that Microsoft, Oracle and Apple are engaging in hostile patent warfare against Android. Ironically, Drummond claims that when Microsoft and other large tech companies acquired Novell's patents, they became armed with an arsenal to aim at Android.

According to Drummond's initial post on the matter in July:

"They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the “Rockstar” group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Phone 7; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it."

We reported on CPTN's pursuit of Novell's patents early on, and it seemed quite notable that many of tech's biggest players were interested in spending a lot of money on the patents. From Drummond's perspective, that interest had precisely nothing to do with innovation, and everything to do with obstructing Android.

Notably, the U.S. Department of Justice has put some restrictions on what CPTN Holdings can do with Novell's patents. Specifically, as stated here:

"The department said that, as originally proposed, the deal would jeopardize the ability of open source software, such as Linux, to continue to innovate and compete in the development and distribution of server, desktop, and mobile operating systems, middleware, and virtualization products.  Although the department will allow the transaction to proceed, it will continue investigating the distribution of the Novell patents to the CPTN owners."

When Novell lost its independence by being acquired by Attachmate, one of the last public U.S. companies focused primarily on open source lost its power, and large companies that are not so focused on open source swallowed its patent assets up, paying huge sums of money to do so. Novell's roots extend all the way back to the initial rise of personal computers, and it owned a lot of valuable patents. It's ironic to see the patents of an open source leader suddenly become fodder for obstructing the open source leader that Android is now.



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3 Comments
 

The Author is so clueless and is confusing Nortel's patents that Google is referring to with Novell's patents.

Please correct this or it looks lame.


0 Votes

The author is clueless and confuses Nortel's patents that Google is referring to with Novell's patents which are two totally different companies.

Please correct it as it is so lame.

*Deleting this comment is not going to help :)


0 Votes

@ Sisora, the post from Google references both Novell's and Nortel's patents.


Sam


0 Votes
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