[Follow-up: Microsoft says Google declined an invitation to bid together on Novell patents.]

Google is fighting back publicly against what it calls “a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.”

Those are the words of David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, in a post today on the Official Google Blog. As evidence of the organized campaign, Drummond points to Microsoft’s lawsuits against Barnes & Noble and other Android device makers; as well as Apple, Microsoft and others teaming up to acquire the patent portfolio of bankrupt Nortel Networks — which has reportedly sparked a U.S. Justice Department investigation.

The goal, Drummond writes, is to use the patents to impose a tax (in the form of a patent licensing fees) that makes Android devices more expensive, for example. Microsoft is reportedly getting $5 on every Android device sold by HTC, through a patent licensing deal, and seeking more in its talks with other Android handset makers.

“Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it,” Drummond writes, describing the tactics as anticompetitive.

We’re not naive; technology is a tough and ever-changing industry and we work very hard to stay focused on our own business and make better products. But in this instance we thought it was important to speak out and make it clear that we’re determined to preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it.

We’ve asked Microsoft for comment, and we’ll update this post depending on the response.

Technology patents were put into a national spotlight recently through a This American Life investigation into Intellectual Ventures, the patent licensing firm and invention house run by Nathan Myhrvold, the former Microsoft technology chief.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • http://blog.findwell.com Kevin Lisota

    Bogus patents? Weren’t they a bidder for said patents, and were outbid and outplayed by their competition? Sounds like a sore loser to me.

    • Guest

      Google is 13 years old and acting every minute of it. A spoiled child who throws a tantrum when he doesn’t get his way.

  • http://twitter.com/jbs2886 Justin B. Stone

    Apparently most Android manufacturers disagree with Google. They would not be willing to agree to licensing with Microsoft if they did not feel these “bogus” patents were legitimate. Also, it is not merely avoiding costly litigation, if the patents are so plainly bogus, costly litigation is not an issue as legal standards would eliminate the issue.

  • john

    Google pretty much rides on the back of the iPhone’s success, modeling an OS after it and then gives it away for free. Then they accuse others of destroying innovation and anti-competitive practices. Brings to mind a certain cliche about a pot and kettle.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.goolsbee Chuck Goolsbee

      Bingo. Look at the smartphone pre-iPhone, then fast-forward to now. Android is Google’s Windows to Apple’s Macintosh – a complete look & feel clone.

      • Guest

        … and well on the way to 95% market share, much to the disgust of Apple purists.

      • Guest

        You mean after Apple copied the look and feel of LG’s Prada phone?

      • Whileuweresleeping

        Apple tried that argument against MS and HP. They lost as I recall.

  • Mason B.

    Let me get this straight.  Google, the company founded on a patent (for PageRank), the company that goes to more trouble to hide its patents through shell corporations than almost anyone other than Intellectual Ventures, the company with one of the highest market caps in the tech industry, and the company that bid $4B on these very same patents, is whining that the big, bad wolves are eating its lunch?  Cry me a river. 

  • Guest

    So giving away Android for free in order to protect and extend their effective monopoly in search is okay competitively, but MS and Apple’s action with respect to Android’s patent infringement isn’t?  Um, okay.

    Instead of whining like a baby, why doesn’t Google just step up and indemnify its OEMs? If these patents are bogus, defending against them should even cost too much. And anyway, Google is making billions indirectly off Android. So putting a few hundred million back into the kitty doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    • Anonymous

      Now *that* would be Google putting its money where its mouth is.

Job Listings on GeekWork