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

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 7:23PM EST

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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.