Google’s Schmidt: Motorola buy is about ‘more than just patents’

Google Executive Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt on Thursday reiterated that the company’s proposed $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility is about more than just patents. When Google announced the deal, CEO Larry Page said in a statement, “Motorola Mobility’s total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies. Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.” He also noted, however, that Motorola’s extensive patent portfolio would greatly assist Google and its Android partners in defending Android against patent complaints from the likes of Apple and Microsoft. Read on for more.

Several experts have since weighed in on the acquisition, and many believe Motorola’s portfolio of 25,000 issued and pending patents will do less to protect Android than initially believed. One patent expert went so far as to call the deal “an immense mistake.” On stage at the Salesforce.com Dreamforce conference, Schmidt made certain to communicate that the benefits of the Motorola buy extend beyond patents. “We did it for more than just patents. We actually believe that the Motorola team has some amazing products coming,” Schmidt told Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on stage at the conference. “We’re excited to have the product line, to use the Motorola brand, the product architecture, the engineers. These guys invested the RAZR. We know them well because they’re Google Apps users.” He continued, “[We enjoy] having at least one area where we can do integrated hardware and software.”

Schmidt continued, noting that the current U.S. patent system has created a hostile environment that is in serious need of an overhaul. His only idea for a proposed solution, however — to crowd-source patent applications and let the general public comment on possible prior art — is not legal under the current system.

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