Software patents ‘gumming up’ smartphone innovation, Google’s general counsel says

By on July 26, 2011 at 8:45 PM.

Software patents ‘gumming up’ smartphone innovation, Google’s general counsel says

Apple, Google, HTC, Samsung, Microsoft… it’s hard to name a technology company that’s not currently involved in a patent battle with another firm. Google’s general counsel Kent Walker thinks the legal battles could actually hurt consumers and the landscape of today’s ever changing smartphone market. “The tech industry has a significant problem,” Walker said. “Software patents are kind of gumming up the works of innovation.” Google chairman Eric Schmidt recently said that his company will stand behind HTC, one of its Android partners, in an attempt to ensure it doesn’t lose an ongoing patent battle with Apple. “We have seen an explosion of Android devices entering the market and, because of our successes, competitors are responding with lawsuits as they cannot respond through innovations,” Schmidt said. According to Bloomberg, Walker said that Google is looking to purchase patents that will allow it to compete better against its rivals, such as Apple. It is unclear what acquisitions Google will pursue in an effort to bolster its patent portfolio, but there is speculation the search giant will buy Kodak’s InterDigital arm. “Each side can blow the other up on some level –everybody can block the other’s products from coming to market,” Walker said. “You create this mutually assured destruction scenario, but it’s very expensive to get all those munitions. Buying patents so you can hit the other guy, it’s not good form. You hate to unilaterally disarm here, but we haven’t in our history.” Walker said that he’s confident Google has the muscle to “balance the scales” against the likes of Microsoft and Apple. More →

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AT&T: T-Mobile acquisition on schedule for March 2012 approval

By on June 22, 2011 at 4:15 PM.

AT&T: T-Mobile acquisition on schedule for March 2012 approval

Speaking to reporters recently, AT&T’s General Counsel Wayne Watts said that AT&T’s planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile is still on schedule for approval in March of next year. “The number one question I get from investors is can we get [the deal] done,” Watt explained.  “I think we can.” Sprint, one of the deal’s most outspoken opponents, has argued that AT&T does not need to purchase T-Mobile in order to increase its network capacity, and that the deal would “stifle innovation” in the U.S. wireless market. T-Mobile’s senior vice president of government affairs, Tom Sugure, responded to Sprint and other opponents on Tuesday, noting that each has “failed to offer any credible arguments to support their view that the Commission should deny the transaction.” More →

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Google places $900M bid for 6,000 Nortel patents

By on April 4, 2011 at 2:01 PM.

Google places $900M bid for 6,000 Nortel patents

The business of smartphone production is starting to look more like the a John Grisham legal novel. While handset makers try to out-innovate each other with high-end, spec-heavy handsets consumers will flock to, lawyers are trying to out-flank each other with patent suits and red-tape. No longer can you have an armada of talented engineers and a driven executive team, you also must possess a war chest of hardware and software patents to prevent your company from entering litigation limbo — just Google the words Nokia, Apple, and patent if you don’t know what we’re talking about. More →

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