back to article Google crams arsenal with 1,000 IBM patents

Google has added to its ammo dump in the patent hostilities, buying over a thousand more of IBM's patents. The search engine behemoth bought 1,023 patents from IBM in August, according to records filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office's website, and originally reported on the SEO by the Sea blog. IBM declined to comment …


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  1. Andy Watt

    All the patents in the world...

    ... won't make up for an insecure, fragmented platform. Unless google gets a grip and stops playing "beta tennis" and adopts a more controlled aspect in its' running of the Android project, the legal team will be their only source of revenue as the public dives for a secure, coherent platform (maybe Samsung could use WebOS as another competitor).

    1. iworm

      re.All the patents in the world...

      Glad you clarified that for us then - I wondered why Android, and Google in general, was doing so jolly badly these days.

    2. lurker

      Well, if it's that or the 'my way or the highway' approach taken by Apple, I think I'll live with google's admittedly haphazard and fragmented approach. As for security, I'm with Ben F: "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither".

    3. peter 45

      Beta tennis....Ahh thats why

      I wondered why I was unable to contribute to these comments using my Android Tablet.

      No....wait....what? I must be confused by all this fragmenting.

    4. Mike Judge

      the failure

      is your understanding, as you can easily code different activities and layouts for different devices and is versions. I recently wrote an appointments thats a single APK supporting tablets and phones android 1.6 to honeycomb 3.2

  2. Dance of light


    The only people who will benefit from this are lawyers. The ultimate looser are the users who would have to pay a higher price for devices which otherwise would be potentially less expensive. This might be good for Google, but if the whole patent crap is not sorted out, then we are ones who will be paying for all this nonsense.

    1. Craigness


      This action did not take place in a vacuum. If innovators don't seek to protect their inventions from patent trolls then the most patenting company (the fruity one) will be the only one allowed to sell conveniently-sized devices with screens and corners. That would mean higher prices and less choice for consumers.

      1. KrisMac

        While I agree with your premise...

        ... I feel it only right to point out that the 'most patenting company' in this picture is not the fruity one - it is IBM! Big Blue's patent portfolio puts everyone else into the shade.

        The thousand or so patents snagged by Google this time around will probably be replaced by the IBM papetnt machine ten times over in the next twelve months.

        I will grant you however that the fruity variety do seem more willing to use their bits of paper in more aggressive ways than even the Nazghul can dream up...

    2. Oliver 7

      Grammar nazi alert!

      Loser, it's fucking "loser" for fuck's sake!!!

      I'm sorry to flame you specifically when so many people are at it but it's such a common misspelling it's almost become an accepted convention now. Drives me bonkers!


      As for Google, if you can't beat 'em...

      1. JibberJabberBadger

        Live by the sword...

        How many times will I have to write an post like this....

        "...misspelling it's almost become..." how about "it has" or "its", not "it's". So you are not a very good grammar Nazi (which I assume should be capitalised, but I'm not sure). Another point, should it be "fucks' " not "fuck's"? I'm not a self proclaimed grammer Nazi, so I wouldn't know, just fed up of people ranting when they can't even rant correctly themselves. It is a tech blog, not a literary one.

        1. Fr Barry

          And die by the sword...

          It should be it's as it is a contraction of it is or it has, the apostrophe indicating there are letters missing. The possessive of "it" is its without the apostrophe! Trying to remember (old age is a pita) but I seem to recall the latter is the Saxon genitive case.

          Sake is possessed by fuck and so imho the apostrophe is correct in that too.

  3. GotThumbs
    Thumb Up

    Yes! Take a bite out of Apple.

    Nice to see Google is more open than Apple is. Apple will lie in the same bed as MS to stop progress. Guess Apple is scared.....they should be.

    I know I'll NEVER own an Apple product.

  4. Old Painless

    Bored already...

    ..just let them all get tooled up, drop them in a desert and see who walks out at the end. It'll be cheaper than lawyers anyway

  5. Ralph B

    Another interesting number

    So, they've bought 1023 patents from IBM, have they?

    1023 is 2^10 - 1

    And a googol is 10^10^2.

    And they bid Pi billion dollars for the Nortel patents.

    These guys are geeks. And geeks are good.

    Even if they are also evil.

    1. dssf


      They should have bought them in groups of 1024x768, and then plexed in a few in some sort of plane-splitting, scintillating way to be a dazzling effect.

    2. peter 45


      Google may not wish to be evil, but I think they have discovered that if you swim with sharks, yiou had better grow a mighty set of fangs. Being nice just does not cut it in International business. Remains to be seen how they start using their new patents other than as a defence, but for now I think their intentons are Good

    3. peter 45


      The highest number you can count to using 10 fingers. 1111111111 binary =1023 decimal. (same as 2^10 - 1)

      I like to think that someone in a meeting with IBM indicated how many patents were on the table by holding up both hands. They then all giggled at at the poor sucker who said 'Only ten?' (You really have to be a geek to play those games.)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The final objective is to create a situation where it is impossible for any new player to enter the market.

    It may not be intentional, but they (including Google) are effectively colluding to prevent any innovations from disrupting the market. The cost of all the current actions will be borne by the consumer.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Nah, that is not Google's track record at all and there is no sign that that is about to change.

      If it wasn't for Apple and Oracle and their respective stupidities, Google would not be bothering with all this patent nonsense.

      Many have criticised Google for not backing up the users of their Android platform against these competitive aggressors, but Google is playing the long game here and I think they are doing a good job at it.

    2. Asgard

      The patent system is fundamentally broken

      @"The final objective is to create a situation where it is impossible for any new player to enter the market."

      That's not Google, that's unfortunately the way the whole corrupt fundamentally broken patent system has been evolved, biased, manipulated and mutated into something that undermines progress and holds back progress. No inventor stands a chance these days in any market where corporations roam and that's the way the corporations want it. They have twisted the patent system into a way to stop their competitors and only someone who can buy thousands of patents can even get a negotiating place at the table against these corporations. That isn't about innovation or good design. Its about power, pure and simple.

      That's why ironically we would now be better off without patents, because it would be a lot cheaper for all of us to not have to keep paying for all these patents battles, whenever we buy any of these products. Also no patents would at least allow the little guy a chance to show and sell what good products they can make, to help them undermine and beat the competition, which is the way it should be. Copyright would still allow inventors to protect direct copying of ideas, but patents, the way they are now (when thousands of them are used together) are just a corporate way to block any and all access to every market the corporations want to control.

      1. Tom 13

        For as bad as it was,

        it's about to get worse. The US either has or is just about to update the patent laws.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Google is different in one respect, I think

      So far, they have not directly sued anybody; and seem to only use their patents for defense.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So far google hasn't had anything to sue with, except those patents they bought then sold to HTC so that HTC could sue apple.

  7. Zippy the Pinhead

    @AC 15:51

    No what Google is doing is helping other companies fight patent lawsuits being flung at them from outside companies such as MS and Apple by licensing or transferring the patents to others in their patent fights. That's not stifling competition or collusion!

  8. Justin Clements

    These patents are worthless

    If IBM were unable to monetise these patents at market rates, why should they have any value in a patent trade off/showdown?

    Google are getting played for mugs with lots of money to spend.

    What's the saying? An idiot and their money are soon........?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      IBM and Oracle aren't big friends and what hurts Android potentially hurts Linux, which is not in IBM's best interest.

      I wouldn't be surprised if IBM are just sticking in a little oar to stir the shit so-to-speak.

      Just because IBM are not monetising the patents doesn't mean that they don't contain some little sticks to beat Oracle and Apple with. WRT Apple, they are in different markets anyway so it is not beyond possible that IBM could afford to let them go without affecting their competitive advantage.

    2. James Anderson

      They are defensive patents.

      IBM makes money out of licensing hardware patents.

      It generally does not license its software patents. These patents were applied for to stop some shyster filing a patent claim for something IBM developed in an Eastern Texas court.

    3. Tom 13

      IBM monetizes its patents BY renting them to other companies.

      And only the mother of all fools would be stupid enough to sue IBM.

  9. Jay Jaffa


    does all this really matter in the new "long term"?

    When the chinese take over the world, Jobs will be dead, human rights will be gone, Brin & page will be lost, ballmer will be outed as a polo monkey and no one will care anyway. Prepare for national bankruptcy then slavery ... fun to watch.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take that Apple

    When you start making golfball typewriters, Google will be ready for you!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    No ones saying how much this will add to the cost of other platforms phones? If these patents existed already, surely IBM would be capitalising on them by suing Apple etcetera.

    1. KjetilS

      Afaik, IBM hasn't been in the business of starting "patent wars" the way Apple has lately.

  12. Andy Watt


    I see my stirring got a reaction :-)

    OK, so someone coded an application which runs on 1.6 to 3.2 - but you don't say what hoops or compromises you had to make to do so - how tricky was it? If you had to do much work, or make a load of compromises (say, by avoiding the latest APIs) then I call that a fragmented platform.

    As for insecure - Android is making the headlines for the amount of malware being retracted, while listed live, on the android market. That's insecure in my book.

    To each their own. I genuinely want Android to thrive but I just can't see this going any other way but the usual tech-sphere chaos, with a good dose of manufacturer forking and idiotic competition thrown in for good measure. If you want the devices to only last as long as old feature phones did, then fair enough (see update schedules for several devices, eg motorola's - where some parts of the world get updates and some don't).

    I hate to see good hardware left with incomplete software (I know you can root most stuff and Cyanogen it, but that's not the point).

    On topic though - Google can arm its cohorts with patents all it wants. It won't be enough to ensure that the devices themselves remain secure, and ensure that they sell, if the built-in weaknesses of the android business ecosystem (google + manufacturers) are not addressed. That was my point.

    Wonder if I can get more than 37 thumbs down? I'll keep that one as a totem.

    1. Paul Shirley

      The biggest problem I have is dealing with the large number of screen formats and pixel densities. Android tries hard to make it just work but inevitably some loser phone with a 240x320 will trip you up.

      The OS layer itself isn't much of a problem and doesn't need much working around ;)

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