back to article Has Google wasted $12bn on a dud patent poker-chip?

It's all about patents, says Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page. Google insists that it bought Motorola to shore up its Android platform, which is caught in a litigious pincer movement from old buddies Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison. Microsoft is merely egging them on the sidelines as the manbags fly, shouting: "Fight!" But …


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  1. James Hughes 1


    You read through those 24,500 patents quickly.

    1. Anton Ivanov

      My point exactly

      The reason Microsoft wanted them was not wireless and there _ARE_ UI and media patents there. They are just not where Andrew and other analysts look. They are in the pile of leftovers from the days when Motorola did Windows STBs and was Microsoft chosen partner (and primary IPTV platform vendor). There are patents on streaming, how it interacts with mobile network, media UI, you name it. These are probably cross-licensed for life with Microsoft, but not with Apple. If these are a part of the deal it just got "curiouser and curiouser"

      Similarly, there are two types of wireless patents - patents on technology and patents on implementation related optimisations like power consumption reduction techniques, etc. The latter is not pooled and is once again enough to blow a huge whole under the waterline in any of the opponents.

      That is off the top of my head and I am familiar with only probably a few 10s of the patents in that 25K loot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Useless patents

        Power consumption reduction techniques? I remember how Motorola handled that. Their Triplets series phones used to sleep through GSM pages in order to save battery power. That works great until the phone is in a weak signal area. Then the phone begins to miss calls altogether. They ended up recalling their top-of-the-line V600 here in the 'States because of it.

        And don't get me wrong. I'm not saying all of their patents are meaningless, but I don't really see Google gaining much out of this deal. I do see them losing a lot, however. Motorola did make some other good phones back in the day, but since smartphones have become mainstream Motorola hasn't offered anything that interests me anymore.

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  2. Anonymous Coward


    "Google didn't take IP seriously, bidding silly numbers" - what the f@ck does this mean? Its silly that a patent is worth that much? Or have you joined the bandwagon that says bidding in non-integers means that you dont want to win?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I was thinking that

      A silly number would be bidding $1 for Motorola.

      A funny number would be bidding £8008135.

      If you'd pay £3Bn for something, and have loads of cash lying about, why NOT bid $3.14159265358Bn for it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Google Numbers

        I don't know why people are so baffled by Google's bids. Google has always done everything with regard to mathematics. I was reading the blog of a former Google employee a few weeks ago. She stated that she quit on 3/14, because "nothing is done at Google without math in mind." That's just the corporate culture.

  3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  4. OneArmJack
    Thumb Down

    Google legal vs Reg hack

    I suspect that the Google legal bods probably considered all this for longer than the 5 hours between the takeover announcement and this article.

  5. Turtle

    Love it!

    $12.5b... wasted?

    Well like they say, "easy come, easy go!"

    Articles do not get more enjoyable than this!

  6. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Does Motorola have any interesting Sun or Oracle licences?

    I could have this all wrong, but evidently Android's Dalvik uses mostly material from Java that is licensed for free re-use, although not with the Java name. Oracle's lawsuit is substantially on the basis that parts of Android's development are not covered by the liberal - but not totally liberal - licence terms of Java, and therefore infringe.

    So maybe the Motorola handset business comes with some additional licensing?

    Although that wouldn't necessarily help retrospectively?

    Or perhaps it will?

    Anyway, it is evidently quite normal for any U.S. or global company to be sued by competitors. This legal business is carrying on all the time, and customers shouldn't worry about it. You may need to have a Plan B in case the provider of your product implodes, due to losing a lawsuit badly, but you would do, anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Doesn't Motorola Mobility have a Java licence?

      AFAIK the Razr phones could run Java ME apps, soooo... 2+2=4?


    2. gherone

      Do not forget Moto was in the CPU business before SUN....

      And Moto Mobility has co-ownership of all old Moto IP, including the parts which are now known as Freescale and OnSemi. There is a pretty good chance some SUN silicon is very close to one or another of Moto patents on memory interface, bus architecture, cache coherency, etc. and somebody at Google may be a lot more motivated to pursue litigation against Oracle then old Motorola or new Freescale ever was....

      1. Pseu Donyme


        The first Sun (tm) workstations had Motorola 68k CPUs. (Those were the days ... when the city of Atlantis stood serene above the sea ... :)

  7. ich

    hail to the great analysts

    Was one of the analysts you've spoken to Florian Mueller by any chance? Surely a very unbiased source that you guys seem to rely upon quite frequently.

    1. Random Handle


      Depressingly, El Florio correctly predicted Google would be forced to buy Motorola Mobile because of the IP conflicts with Droid and OHA partners...but I suppose he could have entirely changed tune in the intervening days since his License to Kill posting.

    2. Anakin

      Much FUD now

      Many haters out there

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Yes we do hate slow cr*ppy android code that kills your battery and needs 2 core and 2GB to run!.

        Will be interesting to see how their partners really feel and they don't flee en masse to very promising windows phone, unless Google only bought Moto as a sacrificial cow for the rest of the partners and expect it to be loss making in the foreseeable future.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          Clearly you havn't actually seen a Windows Phone 7, as you wouldn't be saying such crazy crap. Windows Phone 7 (and 7.5) is a truly horrific platform, and it shows, as nobody uses it, and has barely any app support either.

          1. pan2008

            I have

            Have you? I have been using one for the past 6 months and I take my word is faster than the androids running double the hardware. With Mango will be really excellent.


    This is just sad.

    Google finally decides to play along with all of the other crass corporations and the fanboys still try to find some way to denigrate those that dare to play in Apple's playground.

  9. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Motorola 'invented' cell phones

    >But have a look where Motorola patents' strengths are: radio engineering and design.

    Who is to say there isn't a patent saying something like "making a telephone without wires"?

    that with a few continuation filings could still be valid.

    But more importantly it's a good-ol American company from Illinois, that will look good to a judge in Easty Texas - which is all that matters in business today.


      A Yankee in East Texas...

      Being a Yankee in the podunk parts of Texas is not necessarily a strength.

      Such a company might be viewed as equivalent to any other foreign company.

      1. J 3

        Yeah, but...

        Is it worse than being a Californian, are you sure?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Prior Art?

      Alexander Graham Bell made a telephone witihout wires. You can see it in the (aptly titled) Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Nova Scotia.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gtk??? Serious??

    Andrew dear, go ask Google engineers how much sweat they poured over building Chrome for Linux with Gtk. Read their blogs, their rants. Have you ever tried to build Gtk these days? have you seen how insane is its list of dependencies? So why would Google use it?

    Nokia didn't want to touch Gtk with a stick! they simply preferred something a bit more documented and organized.. it's called Qt.

    1. Steve Crook

      Using the API????

      AFAIK what he's actually suggesting is that they should have used the API and then written their code 'underneath it' instead of providing something based on the Java API (with their own VM, compiler etc).

  11. Ami Ganguli


    Inventing your own language or making he UI different wouldn't help. Software patents are so broad and trivial that everybody infringes on everything. You can't avoid them. The only way to stay in the game is to have your own portfolio of obvious patents to wave about.

    So the defensive patent portfolio doesn't need to be of high quality either. Just enough force the other side to settle instead of risking a fate similar to Samsung.

    The Nokia example is actually pretty informative. Sure Apple only ended up paying 400M or so, but without Nokia's patent portfolio Nokia would have had to pay Apple instead. Obviously the strategy worked for Nokia.

  12. spencer

    "Why didn't Google develop its own language and platform?"

    Java (as much as people dislike it) is popular, it has good developer support and decent open source tools.

    There's a lot of software that can (and has) been ported over fairly quickly.

    Dalvik is used because Java is slow and bloated.

    ..That's probably the reason.

    Probably a bit too early to see why Google bought Motorola. But negative speculation from Mr Orlowski always seems to draw in the comments.

    1. vic 4
      Thumb Down

      Java (as much as people dislike it) is popular

      Popular and disliked!

      > Dalvik is used because Java is slow and bloated.

      > ..That's probably the reason.

      I'm going to completely ignore the remark about java being slow and move straight on. I'd say one of the main reasons is so they didn't have to license it from Sun.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        @vic 4

        "I'd say one of the main reasons is so they didn't have to license it from Sun."

        I reckon it was to build a locked in app store thing to capture more of the advertising market. Using straight Java would have allowed any old Android customer to use any old app market without troubling Google's servers and their accompanying adverts.

        1. KjetilS


          " Using straight Java would have allowed any old Android customer to use any old app market without troubling Google's servers and their accompanying adverts"

          ... you can do that today with Dalvik as well?

        2. vic 4
          Thumb Down

          re: Using straight Java would have allowed ...

          > Using straight Java would have allowed any old Android customer to use any old app market

          Ignoring the fact anyone can do that now with dalvik why couldn't you. If you define the API and what apps can do you prevent whatever you want, its an implementation issue.

          However google are not interested in doing that, simple as that.

  13. DrXym Silver badge


    The reason to use Java (as the language) was it allowed leveraging of a massive amount of existing tools and libraries. For example Eclipse is a great IDE so using Java immediately gives the SDK a leg up. Dalvik is also pretty much capable of using any 3rd party J2SE library of which there are a multitude.

    There is no doubt that iPhone & Android share a far degree of similar touch based mechanics. However Android's desktop really is nothing like the one in iOS except on the most superficial level. Users can arrange layouts, they can install widgets. Apps are not so much monolithic apps that run at the expense of other apps as they are things which can be strung together. And things like multitasking are well thought out and implemented. The difference is even more pronounced in Android 3.0.

    So yeah maybe they could junk Java for something else, but why should they. As for the UI, there is more than enough to distinguish it from iOS and always has been.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      all about patents

      "For example Eclipse is a great IDE so using Java immediately gives the SDK a leg up"

      You must be joking, it easily brings any 4GB PC to its knees!! It's free but it doesn't mean is great.

      This is all about patents, finally google need to spend some money to defend their product. See how it all cooks together, will be a very interesting year.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Nothing wrong with Eclipse

        I agree Eclipse is a heavy weight app but it's also one of the most powerful IDEs in existence. I practically live in the app for Java development and it has incomparable functionality for refactoring, formatting, debugging and a host of other features. Not even Netbeans gets close.

        That's not to say it's without its faults of course and I could spend a post ranting about them. But for example the IDE can be pretty complex, sometimes maddeningly more so than Netbeans but on the flip side it's also a lot more powerful.

        If you keep your plugins down to the ones you need (e.g. don't install the J2EE eclipse if you only J2SE functionality) it works pretty well. I think some versions of Eclipse, such as the commercialized Websphere developer editions are so laden down that they are borderline unusable.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        title required

        RE: "Eclipse easily brings any 4GB pc to its knees!"

        You're doing it wrong.

  14. davenewman

    Data trumps stories

    See for all the real gen.

    The copyright claims are getting weaker as people dig up more statements from Sun that used to be on Sun's java site (which Oracle has difficulties recovering for the court case). But Orlikowski is right to point out that Google engineers and lawyers should have paid more attention to what licence conditions Sun set rather than relying on statements from Sun executives who are no longer there.

    If enough patents claims are found invalid in the re-examinations (see tables), then the Motorola patents could be enough to trade for the remaining valid claims. As for the Nortel ones, Google gave up bidding when it found itself up against a consortium of everyone else, trying to establish an oligopoly. US and EU regulators are looking at the competition effects of the purchase of Novell patents. They might do the same for the Nortel ones.

    All this goes to show that the effective purpose of patents in fast-moving industries is not to support innovation, but to help large companies keep out new entrants.

    1. Turtle


      There's a little backstory to Schwartz' blog posting; see by a former Sun engineer.

      Just on the off-chance that you are not inclined to look at the link, let me paste the former Sun engineer's summary: "Schwartz's blog should not be taken as an indication that Sun knew about and approved what Google was doing with Android. What it does prove is what a lot of people knew then but wouldn't say: Schwartz was a clueless loud-mouthed buffoon who happily fiddled away on his blog as SUNW burned."

      So Schwartz' blog posts might not really weaken Oracle's claims against Google, but they might entice Google into open a can of worms in front of a jury that Oracle might be able to use to show Google's duplicity.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reality is just a distant, far-away land isn't it?

      One. Oracle woulnd't file a lawsuit if they didn't think they had a chance of winning. These things can get expensive.

      Two. Even if parts of their suit are invalidated, why would Oracel want to trade the remainder for mobile Motorola patents?

      Three. They won't be invalidated, because of the emails of several Google members which basically prove that Google went ahead and stole Sun/Oracle's IP.

      Four. Google didn't give up bidding because of a Cabal of companies trying to destroy them. Microsoft offered them a part in this consortium, and they said no, because they could not have used them for defensive purposes if they had.

      Considering Android ha sbeen in development far longer than iOS or Windows Phone 7, I would say Google is the entrenched party here.

      1. Mike Judge

        OK then..,.

        You actually believe Microsoft's claim they invited Google to join the Nortel patent gang..

        Do you know how dumb that sounds?

  15. SoftFox

    Lack of long term analysis alert...

    This article is completely from the hip and lacking any long term thought

    Nortel is sold for 6 billion too MS et al for approx 6,000 patents and then Google pays 12 Billion for far more and suddenly its a bad decision ?

    The hardware division is no problem either, would guess that will be sold off and a generous some of money will come back to Google and reduce the overall sum making it an even better deal.

    Finally you do not need corresponding patents in patent war, its more a case of you you settle out of court and play (pay) the patents of each other until you come to a middle of the road settlement. The actual patents don't have to be directly connected and can between totally separate products/divisions..

  16. Microphage

    Why don't Apple sue Google directly?

    If Google were to offer blanket imdemnification then that would mean Apple would have the one bog target instead of lots of small ones. The big question is why don't Apple sue Google directly instead of the downstream developers. Is it becasue their case is on very shaky legal grounds. What's the state of indemnification across the industry in relation to other players and how has the patent wars influenced the advance of FOSS software?

    1. SuccessCase


      Irrespective of the morality of their case, why sue Google? Google have deep pockets. The hardware manufacturers pockets aren't so deep. On a purely strategic level Apple's choice makes complete sense. By adopting that strategy Google face a dilemma. Take on huge legal bills on behalf of their partners or leave one or two partners to fight their own legal fight. The cost / payback ratio is always disadvantageous to Google. Apple will avoid suing everyone at once - otherwise they make it worth Google's while stepping in to the arena. They can just keep chipping away and sowing the seeds of fear uncertainty and doubt. In my view Google need to accept the effectiveness off this strategy bite the bullet and indemnify their partners. Currently Apple know Google don't want to do that because they have developed Android as a long term strategic play, not to earn license revenues here and now. So Android doesn't fund the legal fight Google need to take on if they are going to keep Android open and (largely license cost unencumbered) in the here and now.

      The result of all this is Google are likely to be forced to go back on their commitment to keep Android open source. The opportunity cost is getting bigger all the time. By keeping it free, they can't afford to defend it, at least not without legal fund subsidy from their advertising revenues in a way that would call their strategy into question in the eyes of the analysts. They have already deferred making Honeycomb source code open, probably in part because they are being forced to recognize this harsh reality.

      Secondly now they are an admirable number two in the tablet market, which continues to explode all over the place, yet are making no appreciable revenues from it. In the meantime Apple are making billions upon billions from iOS and iPad. What would you do if the opportunity cost of your Open Source strategy runs to billions? Stick with open source, or say "We tried but we are a business and have to compete by realizing the revenues available to us" ?

      I don't know what they will do. But they are facing one huge dilemma.

      Perhaps it's predictable, but "Don't do evil" now seems to be conflicting with "Make huge amounts of money." Idealism is being mercilessly ravaged by market opportunity.

    2. sleepy

      Google doesn't sell infringing devices

      And that's the reason why Apple doesn't sue directly.

      1. Goat Jam

        Imdemnify their partners

        I reckon their best bet would be to offer Android to OEMs in 2 forms;

        1) Free to use and fight your own battles

        2) Commercially licensed pay per handset with legal indemnification

        Let the OEMs decide whether they want to go it alone and hope for the best or pay a license and get protection from G

      2. Robert Halloran

        pass-along cost

        The handset makers that have agreed to pay Apple/M$/etc their Danegeld are simply passing along that cost to us in pricier kit. It's worth noting that Barnes & Noble, who's being sued by the Monopolist for their Nook Color e-reader, told Ballmer's lawyers a) we're not signing your NDA to see the patents b) your patents are obvious and shouldn't have been granted to begin with c) see you in court. For them, the hardware is simply an enabler to market e-books to the masses, so they want to hold the costs down to the bare minimum. The patents they've exposed so far in their initial filings are as obvious as you'd expect, and if this prompts some review by the USPTO, are likely to be overturned.

        Google taking on the Moto patent portfolio (remember they were one of the first into the mobile market, they probably have some VERY basic patents on cellular technology) gives them the chance to flip any number of the mobile patent-troll lawsuits back on their attackers.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    does not compute

    I'll agree it's a good scoop for moto, providing them breathing room to sort themselves out. And I'll agree it's a bit of a crapshoot for google. Shelling out that much for patents that expire in what, twenty years tops? What is the average age of that portfolio, anyway? That's going to be something of a bumpy ride to actually make use of it.

    Maybe it's more of a "bigger hammer" approach to a burning wish to be in the handset business, as that didn't work too well for google the first time over. And it makes sense to want to join in as they have a lot of mindshare in the tech crowd; google-y hardware is to the silly valley geek as apple hardware is to the techno hipster. Mobile computing keeps on getting more mobile on ever smaller devices. So google will keep on pushing this because it's practically in their workforce's dna to do so.

    But while I'm drawing parallels, I might as well draw one with nokia. And micros~1's danger misadventure as the set-up asking for a re-think. Though they then proceeded with skype anyway. Anyhow. This thing confuses me. It stops the moto android litigation neatly but is no good as a deterrent ("stop suing or we'll buy you"? does not compute) and doesn't work to deal with that other android litigant. And it also isn't that likely to help against the patent troll going after apple's app store developers.

    So it doesn't really make sense, except as a move comparable to apple's acquisition of pa semi and intrinsity. Pity about the things they took off the market that way, but it did enable them to come up with something apple-esquely successful, and neatly securing a good solid tech advantage on the competition. I don't know what google'll come up with, in fact I'm not sure they have what it takes to succeed as a hardware shop and might burn themselves badly on the management structure of this acquisition, but maybe they do have some Big Plans. At the very least the stakes are suitably high. Maybe, if pressed I'd guess probably, a bit too high.

    Paris, for no reason that appears to make any sense at all.

  18. Earl Jones Of Potatoes


    This tells me that google has an ego worth $12BN.

    Let's see if their $12bn worth of patents are going to be as dubious as those held by Apple, Oracle and Microsoft as they claimed repeatedly.

  19. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    This is a problem?

    "The bigger problem is that Android is blatantly a copycat, but didn't need to be."

    But so what?

    If you insist on building your own application silo every time, you may well get nowhere. This is why the "IBM PC" exists.

  20. hahnchen

    Nokia came out with ongoing royalties, not just a one off payment

    Not just a one off payment as Orlowski suggests.

    I think Google overpaid for Motorola, but I don't think it's a dud. Get the patents, get a skunkworks, sell the manufacturing to an Asian firm who actually knows how to do it.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Pending Patents

    It more about 7,500 pending patents.

  22. Neill Mitchell

    Small change?

    "Nokia barely came out ahead, with a one-off payment of €430m."

    It just goes to show how blasé private equity buyouts and the banking crisis has made us about huge numbers when €430m is considered "barely ahead". How depressing.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    $12bn duck.

    $12bn duck - they would probably have been better buying Nokia - Motorola are already making Android handsets.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    on UI programming languages

    Q: Why not use Go, the language Ken Thompson helped develop?

    A: Because Go sucks at anything remotely practical or usable.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Samsung, anyone?

    You seem to have forgotten Samsung's Galaxy Tab and the iPad front.

    Thats another battalion of Androids that needing reinforcing, from Googles POV.

  26. Jemma


    It wasnt just the one off payment to Nokia, wasnt there talk of some per unit google-thumping involved?

    Id actually be more concerned if Android was a credible competitor. Ive had three Android handsets and they were up and down like an Essex Girls undies (I am from Essex so I am entirely entitled to say that) not to mention zero signal and dodgy apps. Oddly enough when I booted the Diamond into WinMo - a miracle, a good steady signal.

    Not to mention the smartphone sales tables that suddenly lose 20% because that would mean showing people buy symbian.

    90% of people buy on looks alone. A neighbour of mine just realised shes got a powerful Symbian smartphone in her pocket, the 6700s... I got it because it was pretty and I liked the colour. Alot of people are like that, they've no idea what theyve got in their hands.

    As to all this patent palaver... I dont think so...

    Why buy a phone manufacturer thats effectively second string? They have the clout to buy HTC or even divest Samsung of their phone division. So why Motorola?


    Google as of now cannot make their own phones in house, with Moto they will be able to. Which means Moogle completely thrash the rest of the android ecosystem. Want a phone where updates to the hour are guaranteed..? Moogle Want to be (as much as you can be) sure that it wont crash? Moogle Get the Firmware updates first every time? Yup you guessed it...

    Samsung and HTC execs must be looking for someone to kill right now... And I wouldnt blame them in the least. This must have them fuming. All the work thats been put into Sense and TouchWTF and this is how Google repay them? Happy about this not are we...

    All this patent stuff is window dressing by Google in the hopes that their 'partners' wont twig whats happening and come after Googles happy sacs with large steel toecaps.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge


      ive been saying this for years but generally get voted down or laughed at. My samsung omnias have been venerable workhorses. Not the fastest but they work. My HTC HD is a cracking faster phone with more versitility but it doesnt work 100%. bluetooth in the car is hit and miss - sometimes needs a reboot to work. Occasionally loses signal for no reason - same with webaccess. Dont get me started on the 3g/hsdpa pingpong. Battery life is shocking on every android device ive used (from the Tmobile original jobbie, gw620, hd, Z and now a galaxy S2).

      winmo has its uses still. shame it has been canned.

    2. amanfromearth

      It's not Mootle

      It's Googorola

  27. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Look at the timeline

    11/12th Aug - Moto announces that it is going to seek license fees from other android vendors (HTC, Samsung etc)

    14/15th Aug - Google announces that it is going to buy Moto.

    So did Moto make that announcement in the full knowledge that Google was doing due-diligence on the purchase?

    If I were the SEC I'd look at that very carefully.

    If there was nothing more than a punt to the world, 'look at me I'm being a complete <redacted>. Come and buy me NOW!' then that says everything about Moto. Another maker I'll be glad to see the back of.

    1. Mark Jonson
      Thumb Up


      The real reason for this purchase, aside from the supposed patent rights that are begin acquired, is a result of Moto being in fiscal crises for years. Their fledgling mobile business isn't earning any profit. But they knew they had a treasure trove of patents that could be used to infuse some cash into the company. Moto was probably getting ready to sue the pants off of other Android OEMs, over patents similar in nature to those upon which Microsoft and Apple are claiming violations. If Motorola ended up being successful in getting injunctions or large payouts from even some of the OEMs, the entire Android OEM ecosystem would turn into a dog-eat-dog world, with patent-holding OEMs cannibalizing those who could not defend themselves.

      Google couldn't have that if they are to sustain and grow their 40+% market share, so they had to do something. By buying MMI, they are taking control of the patents, and thus preventing Android OEMs from being sued over them, while concurrently ensuring that Android will be protected from litigation regarding anything in Motorola's patent drawer.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    $12B to Defend Andriod Makes Oracle Damage Claim Seems Reasonable

    Title says it all. If Google is willing to shell out $12B in the hope of defending Android, how can they then go to court and say that Oracle claim of a few Billion in damage is overstated.

    Big question that needs to be answered.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: $12B to Defend Andriod Makes Oracle Damage Claim Seems Reasonable


      1. Real Ale is Best

        You're assuming...

        You're assuming that this has anything to do with the Oracle lawsuit.

        Personally I think that Google is looking to defend itself against Apple and MS.

        Apple are suing phone manufacturers, henceforth they will now have to sue Google directly, as Google now manufacturers phones. Thus, Google can defend Android without having to intervene in Apple's (and MS's) lawsuits against HTC et al.

    2. M Gale


      $12bn on a boatload of patents is better than a few billion wasted on nothing. They'll always have those patents to wave around at any potential aggressors, regardless of the merits (or lack of) of Oracle's accusations.

      Really, the Cold War situation of software patents and "intellectual property" is pretty well known and you need to know why Google bought a load?

    3. Andy Jones

      Not really

      Paying $12b for Motorola's phone division means they are getting something in return. With regards the patents they can use these to protect themselves, and use the rest of the phone division how they wish.

      Oracle are asking for an exhorbitant amount in licensing fee's, even taking revenue into account in areas that are of no concern to the infringement (Googles advertising stream). Google disagrees with this amount, and disagrees with the patents and copyrights themselves, so obviously rather than pay up to an obvious troll they are fighting them and winning as well.

      It is quite simple really.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      IT Angle

      Re: $12B to Defend Andriod Makes Oracle Damage Claim Seems Reasonable

      "If Google is willing to shell out $12B in the hope of defending Android, how can they then go to court and say that Oracle claim of a few Billion in damage is overstated."

      Think of it this way: why would you go out and spend a lot of money on a very big television when you can pay someone not to steal the one you already have, and then pay his friend, and then his friend's friend, and so on?

      "Big question that needs to be answered."

      If you're a pundit who was caught on the wrong side of the clueline.

  29. MojoJojo


    ...sort of goes out the window when something like this is written:

    "Why not use Go, the language Ken Thompson helped develop? Or something like it? Or less ambitiously, why not use Gtk and build on it, much as Nokia did with Maemo/Meego? You may have heard of one or two of these."

    Go's entire reason for existence is for the cloud - high performance, concurrent stuff. Not a good match for mobile computing. And suggesting that a new language would have been better seems to ignore the key factor that determines a platforms success.

    Gtk's problems have already been mentioned.

    And finally, holding up Maemo/Meego as a success that google should have copied is just weird.

    Most of the article is good, but that paragraph undermines it's credibility.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Credibility

      Fair point. Go isn't necessarily the best language for a mobile platform.

      But if you can hire the best, you have a great talent pool which can innovate. You don't need to copy. Google didn't innovate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Google's strengths aren't with hardware design. Their engineers do software, and they do it pretty well* to the point of coming up with their own middleware and other reinvented tools. But hardware is a different game, a different mindset. Trying to reinvent the wheel there might very well prove more expensive than a couple mrd, though 12 would perhaps be stretching it. But it is worth noting that developing hardware is expensive, and the end of the day it matters little how you spend the money; all that matters is results. Anyhow. I don't think google needs moto for their software prowess.

        * Though their "search" appears to've been re-optimised for people with new kit, fast internet access and close-by googly server stacks, as it's getting very annoying to use their stuff on slow devices or wet-string connectivity. Yes, I've stopped using them (and others with the same ailment) because getting rid of "instant" is no longer an option.

  30. gherone

    Do not discount basic radio patents....

    There is a lot of IP in how to switch cell towers without dropping calls, how to keep the same audio level when you move around, and how to get around having multiple path for the same radio signal, not to mention antenna designs, variable power output amplifiers depending on distance and propagation to the nearest cell tower, power management in a portable transmitter, etc.

    Motorola has been totally inept in protecting its IP - years ago, when my team had clear infringing examples from another major company, corporate attorneys refused to take action because the infringing party was also a customer ("we do not sue our customers - end of story").

    There are a lot of patents and other IP owned by Motorola, and there are a lot more patents cross-licensed to Motorola over the years, which need to be examined before anybody can say if Google spent its money wisely or not.

    Six Sigma and its successors (Digital Six Sigma, Process Average Testing, Lean Manufacturing) were invented in Motorola - and there are patents associated with them. It is likely that most electronics manufacturers in the world today are infringing some process patent owned by Motorola, regardless of what product they are making.

    Do not confuse Motorola Mobility with a software or phone company - it has access to ALL old Motorola IP.

    Motorola IP covers from semiconductors (remember Freescale and OnSemi? Moto has rights to all their IP up to the separation moment and a lot of companies would love to make micros for the embedded market compatible with older Moto CPUs), to assembly and test process for high volume electronic products, to MEMS, to automotive sensors and modules, telematics, location technology (the Highway Intelligent Vehicle System was demonstrated before 1994 and is still in the Corporate museum in Schaumburg, IL, afaik - it was a turn by turn navigation system years ahead of its time or commercial GPS units), satellite and space technology (Iridium works, it was just too expensive, but the same technology can be used for regular communication satellites by companies with no IP in the area), not to mention the obvious areas related to handsets and cell tower communication protocols.

    It is true that Google needs some time and effort to fully understand and unlock the value of what they are buying, but please DO NOT sell short the value of Motorola IP.....

  31. David Simpson 1

    iOS copy ?

    If anything Android's UI is more a copy of HTC's build of Windows Mobile, I know I used it quite alot (shudder) It's silly to claim Android's desktop UI is like iOS at all apart from a grid of icons.

    Google didn't copy Java's APIs they used what they though were open source Java code, Oracle's whole argument is about how Java ME is licensed and the fact that Google didn't want to hand string Android by using Java ME.

    A very poor collection of research (or lack there of) in this article.

    1. Goat Jam


      hand string?

      try "hamstring", as in "to cripple or ruin"

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Sorry, but

    HTC had similar UIs to the current crop of Android (in the form of TouchFlo) before the original iPhone was released...

    It's got a very familiar widgets and icons layout (which Apple still haven't got on the iPhone- just that stupid icon-grid thing that serves only to make all iPhones look the same), gesture control, multiple screens, etc.

    The only addition Apple made was to add multitouch, which is useful but doesn't add anything that wasn't handled with a few unobtrusive buttons at the bottom of the screen.

    Also, "Why didn't Google develop its own language and platform?" WHAT? You're seriously suggesting that rather than using what was basically Java (a well known, widely-taught, well community supported) language they should have just gone off and invented something else? Like what? What possible use could there have been for inventing their own programming language except to encourage an Apple-style vendor lock-in?

    I agree that they could have chosen a _different_ language, but then why would they? With the JIT compiler they've got no speed worries, it's not a particularly bulky language if you're bundling a load of resources with the OS, and again- Java has a massive community behind it, which means that Dalvik has a massive community behind it.

  33. henrydddd

    Down with patents

    These patent wars are getting so ridiculous that it is time to rethink the whole patent system.

  34. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    "and the UI copies Apple's iPhone."

    I, er... what? The UI copies what? The iphone? How? The iphone UI is a touch-screen filled with little icons that you can, er, move around a bit. The Android UI is a touch-screen filled with a very flexible and configurable space for widgets, icons and all sorts of things. That counts as "copying"?

  35. Anonymous Coward

    What amazes me..

    Back in the days we used to criticize Microsoft because they started out exactly the same. Copycatting. Taking some ideas here, taking some code there and mixing it all together to suit their needs. When it required a little more or they feared (?) the competition they'd simply buy the company and their technology to incorporate it with their own. Heck; sites like /. didn't start using a "'Borged' Gates icon" out of the blue...

    And here we are several years later. Now there's a new company slowly but steadily sliding down the exact same path as MS did. Yet you know what? They keep shouting "do no evil" and a majority seems to believe this because well; they said so, so it must be true. No, Microsoft; those are the /real/ bad guys. They have the monopoly; how many OS's are there?

    Wake up call: A lot right now! Ask yourself this: How many public internet search engines are left? How many available mobile ('cellular') OS's will be left? Where is the real monopoly now?

    And when are we ever going to see that "cool" Android source code?

    I have some very serious doubts here when you look at where this is all going.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There's a difference here... that the Chinese and Amazon can and will fork Android, and that you can quite legitimately emulate Android apps (as Blackberry will).

      The issue with Microsoft was that it always enforced proprietary standards to lock everyone in. Microsoft sued Tom Tom because they'd incorporated FAT32 into their devices just so it would work with the Windows monopoly! I don't see Google douching it up that badly.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        "We can fork it" has always been the number one argument in OSS yet when a situation arises it often turns out to be a whole lot more difficult.

        Yes you can copy it and make it your own (then again; you'd need access to the source code first) but then what? The last good example being OpenOffice. It was forked (Libre Office) but generally speaking that was merely possible because a lot of the original developers came along.

        We also saw the same thing going on with OpenSolaris, yet that didn't work out so well...

        Because of the Oracle oppression people also discussed forking of Java (the open parts anyway) and NetBeans. I've yet to see that happening.

        Forking sounds good, but in the end is often much harder than anticipated; in many cases seemingly impossible.

        1. Goat Jam

          Difficult to fork off?

          Not always, see XFree86 -> xorg

          Who uses Xfree86 these days?

    2. Danny 14 Silver badge


      cue "mars attacks"

      "do not run, we are your friends"

      dakka dakka dakka

  36. Gideon 1

    Hobsons choice

    Either pay Apple and get nothing, or pay for Motorola and at least get something for your money.

  37. Richard Wharram

    I would suspect...

    That since Apple is suing phone makers using android rather than Google and bullying it's partners Google is trying to make the fight more even by forcing Apple to sue Google itself.

    With Google's money and lawyers they might even fight Apple's patents directly and get them invalidated, one by one.


  38. Patrick O'Reilly


    From what I've seen of Google's newest recruits, they're all lawyers and beancounters. Not a chance they let this happen without there being a juicy steak at the end of it.

  39. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Compare and contrast

    How GSM became the world standard for mobile phones in no small part because it was largely developed by European companies (Ericsson, Nokia, Siemens, Alcatel) who knew, since the success of PAL for TV, that would have to work together as much as compete with each other.

    20 years later with the rise of the services based smartphones and, as has been noted in many places, American companies are better placed for their development. Suddenly, it's a no-holds-barred, winner-takes-all kind of thing.

    The comparison isn't 100 % accurate (Nortel and Motorola were on board early as everyone was scared by Qualcomm) but instructive. Will consumers really benefit from the incompatible silo approach that gave us PCS, IDeN, CDMA, etc?

  40. Lars Silver badge

    You have to defend yourself

    Money is nice, but it can also make your cook to vibrant for your brains.

    Just remember Gates who decided he was actually the great inventor and decided to be The Great Chief of Innovation at Microsoft. He probably prevented any innovation to happen at Microsoft during all those years.

    Then we have Jobs who suddenly thinks he actually invented the phone and decides to sue Nokia.

    It must have been a real shock to Jobs and his lawyers to loose so totally against Nokia.

    Now Moto has been for sale a long time without, as I think, having interested Google at all.

    Surely the things related to Apple and Nokia/Microsoft must be the reason behind Googles sudden interest in buying Moto. Apple will have to think twice before suing Google in earnest.

    Microsoft will have to think twice too in case they intend to use Nokia's patents against Google.

    Rumours have it that Apple actually is paying Nokia for each Apple phone because of this vibrant cook of Jobs.

    True or not, that does not matter.

    The thing is that Moto and Nokia have been in the cell phone business from the start and both

    Apple and Microsoft are mere upstarts.

    (and now again I get these extra CR characters from somewhere without asking for them)

  41. Turtle

    $2.5bn Breakup Fee...

    Allow me to scoop the Reg here!

    According to, Bloomberg reports that if the Google-Motorola deal falls through, Google must pay Motorola $2.5 billion.

    That's impressive!

  42. gruffrey

    Not Apple they were going to sue - it was other Android manufacturers

    As a previous poster pointed out, the reason they bought Moto was to stop them crippling other Android manufacturers. Patents are bargaining chips, Apple has lots so Moto couldn't make money from them - Apple would counterclaim until the result is a small (like Nokia) win for either with no major consequences.

    Other Android manufacturers don't have a bank of chips to bargain with like MS and Apple and were being eyed by Moto as a source of income. This had the potential of derailing Google's hope for the future growth of the platform. Again, fosspatents, written over the weekend just before the news:

  43. Dave 124

    FUD Morons... Google Got the Crown Jewls

    Consider this. The crown jewels for modern phones is software defined radio. Imagine Apple getting cut off the knees by being sued over using software defined radio.... and that is what Google just got. Between the Moto purchase and the IBM transfer we can probably consider Oracle, Apple and Microsoft checkmated. Of course Microsoft funded analysts will still write stupid articles such as this to slow down Android but netizens have seen this playbook before!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Patrick O'Reilly

    Not just lawyers and accountants. They've been actively courting quite a few greybeards too.

    Anon, because I'm one of them.

  45. OziWan

    Well it's crunch time

    A group of you think that Google is evil and this justifies that opinion. Another group thinks that Google is not and this just proves it. Well this time we will know.

    I think they have gone for really low level patents to protect the handset makers but I have to admit (as others have pointed out) that the numbers do not add up and there must be something else at play here.... we will see!

    Flammable because this might turn really nasty.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is Pi a silly number?

    I have read this a few times here on the reg, but last time I checked Pi was just a combination of ordinary digits like or what ever number you like there a list of silly numbers I can look up somewhere? Is an auction bid that can be cleanly divided by 3 more reasonable then one thats even?? If making an offer that resembles Pi is valid evidence to be considered being childish and imature what is the perception of Euler or Plank???

    Hopefully the author can shed some light on this matter...and provide some examples of hip and sensible numbers thus we all know what are safe bids for our next eBay auctions...nobody wants to feel emabarresed in front of tech journalists who might watch the auction, right? ;-)

    1. Francis Boyle

      List of silly numbers

      It was probably on Wikipedia along with the list of inherently funny words ( but I suspect they were both deleted probably due to el Reg calling Wikipedia silly.

  47. Steve Taylor 3

    Let's dream up a new language!

    > Why didn't Google develop its own language and platform? The company is full of brilliant engineers, many of whom have mobile platform experience, and who have created some of the milestones in computer history. Why not use Go, the language Ken Thompson helped develop? Or something like it?

    Existing languages come with existing programmers. It's easier to get people to mopve to your platform if they use the skills they already have.

    There - now was that so hard?

  48. scarshapedstar

    Blah blah...

    "Android is a copycat platform. The APIs copy Java, and the UI copies Apple's iPhone"

    iOS is a copycat platform. The API copies Objective C, and the multitasking and status bar copy Android's.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    Know what would be really amusing?

    If Google gave a chunk of relevant patents to the OIN.

    "Hi, we believe Microsoft Windows infringes on 1,423 of our patents. No, we won't tell you which ones. If you don't want us suing you and your vendors, you can make regular cheques payable to us, the FSF, Apache foundation, Debian foundation, oh and Richard Stallman."

    I know, won't happen. But still, it's a really amusing thought.

  50. Mikel

    It will all be fine

    Let's not get our knickers in a twist. Moto needed a little help, and Google needed some patent mojo. Now together they can show AppleSoft their pimp hand, and we all get neat new Android stuff.

    Everybody's a winner.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    Next Google will sue the Android handset makers.

    Next Google will sue the Android handset makers with it's new patent portfolio - HTC and Samsung etc. left out of the party.

    1. James Hughes 1


      That would be completely insane. Google need as a many Android handset out there as they can get - whoever makes them. Remember their main source of income - even owning Moto - it's still advertising.

      Sue the other Android makers and you simply reduce the total percentage market share of Android.

  52. Anonymous Coward


    Perhaps Apple should outbid Google and take control of the patents, get rid of a major Android manufacturer and have it's own manufacturing facility. With their other patents it could give Android a good kicking.

    1. Demosthenese

      And this benefits us how?

      Why would anyone other than Apple shareholders want this? Would it result in a better market? Even a better iphone?

  53. Anonymous Coward


    Google will want a return on that 12bn - they may choose not to use the patents to defend other Android manufacturers hoping to take all the hardware business for themselves.

    Paying around 60% over market price is a bigh premium - recon they are worried other people may also be interested (Apple have deeper pockets!). The fact that they have not is probably more to do with the fact that they do not view the patents as actually being valuable.

  54. Ilgaz

    Google fans, remember

    This was the site that said what Nokia is heading is catastrophe in days when everyone loved them and gave some genius explanation to every weird decision they made.

    Of course, with a better english than mine ;)

    A Symbian owner...

  55. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's very simple...

    All profound analyses aside : there wer a few nails sticking out possibly causing Google to hurt itself.

    So they went to a few hardware stores, checked out available hammers, and bough the biggest one they could carry.

    And now they are going to hit them nals with it.

    It does not matter these are the exact offending nails, they're just going to clear some so they can proceed unimpeded.

    Isn't it nice, having very mucho moneys !

  57. Magnus_Pym

    unlike a lot of patent prchases...

    ... Motorola do actually do something. Maybe they don't do it very well or very profitably. $12bn might be a lot of money but at east Google got something for their money rather than just paperwork.

  58. Pat 4
    Thumb Down

    This article misses the point...

    Why would Google spend billions on patents to defend itself in a copyright case???

    Obviously, this is NOT why they did it, but for some reason, this article is written as if it was the ONLY legal battle Google has on it's hand...

    At the moment, patents are the single most destructive force in the universe and a company without patents is like a marine without his gun.

    Apple has chosen to sue everyone BUT Google over the patents in Android and so far Google had to stay out of the fight for lack of weapons and let it's clients fend for themselves. But NOW... finally Google can step in and put on pressure of it's own so that Apple and M$ leave Android alone.

    Oracle... well that's a completely separate mess.

    Software patents must die.

    And myopic journalists must stop writing.

  59. Anonymous Coward

    Is there another benefit or reason for Google's purchasing Motorola,

    ...days after Moto announced they would use Winpho7, thus being the second manufacturer after Nokia to do so?

    Remove the possibility of a critical mass of Winpho7 use (as now done by buying Motorola) and remove the only threat to an Android monopoly.

    Is there an anti-trust/competition law case to be made about this?

  60. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  61. MS Rocks

    I am loving this

    Hah hah hah. This whole situation is an epic fail for google. Their entire business has been built on plagiarising content, ideas and code from other companies and then acting like ‘the good guy’ by appearing to give it away for free to their customers.

    In reality, they have been making money left right and center by selling their customers personal information to advertisers (via neat little tricks like reading your email). They have managed to fool a large number of their customers by coming up with mottos like ‘do no evil’ (that will be why they are facing a DoJ case then….), positioning themselves as Open Source (have you seen the codebase for Honey Comb anyone?) and promising to ‘organize the world‘s information’ (as long as the bit that makes google money is ‘organised’ to the top of the list eh?).

    They have displayed a breathtaking level of arrogance whilst doing this. Their attitude is ‘we are google, we can do what we like’. They feel that they can cannabalise any business they want to using the revenues they gain from their potentially illegal monopoly in search. However, they are now starting to butt heads with the big, mature, companies whose franchises they are intruding on. They have started to play with the big boys. And they are going to get whipped.

    They have just paid their first fine of $12bn. There will be many more to come, Lets recap. The only business they make money on is their search business. And they are ever so gradually starting to lose share in their core US market to Bing (the first time they have ever lost share in search). They are fighting a DoJ case around unfair business practices. And their Android business (I use the term loosely as it makes no money) is being battered from all sides by powerful, experienced competitors. If they were JUST fighting one large tech company then they would have a chance. But they are not. They are fighting Apple, and Oracle and MS and Nokia. They are going to get butchered. And not before time.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems like I was right

    Orlowski really wrote this at the pub... If not, why delete my comment? Because it was missing a "joke"icon or a <sarcasm> tag?

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