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Summary:

Google is apparently putting its new Motorola patents to work, transferring some of them to HTC, who has turned around and sued Apple for patent infringement. The move by HTC escalates the fighting between the Apple and HTC and marks a more aggressive stance by Google.

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Google is apparently putting its new Motorola patents to work, transferring some of them to HTC, which has turned around and sued Apple for patent infringement. The move by HTC, first reported by Bloomberg, escalates the fighting between the Appleand HTC, who have sued each other over patent claims. But it marks a more aggressive stance by Google, which is applying its growing patent strength in an effort to shore up the larger Android ecosystem.

In its case filed in federal court in Delaware, HTC cited four patents, which came from Motorola. The Taiwanese device maker also amended its infringement case against Apple with the International Trade Commission to include three patents from Openwave and two that were originally issued to Palm. Bloomberg said Google, which obtained the patents within the last year, transferred the patents to HTC on Sept. 1. It’s unclear, however, how exactly Google obtained the patents.

The move increases the likelihood of an eventual Apple-Google showdown. So far, Apple has chosen to file cases against Android manufacturers including HTC, Motorola and Samsung and not directly against Google. Now, it may just be a matter of time before the two go head-to-head.

Patent expert Florian Mueller writes that it initially appears Google is trying to shore up HTC, which hasn’t had much luck in fighting Apple or getting to a point where it can force a cross-licensing agreement. He said the more advanced state of HTC’s fight with Apple and the likelihood it might lose may have prompted Google to act. The ITC in July preliminarily sided with Apple saying HTC infringed on two Apple patents. The patents appear to be based on software built into the core of the Android operating system, which could have spelled trouble for Google and all Android manufacturers.

By working with HTC to sue Apple, it looks like Google is working toward a broader defense of Android. It’s unclear how successful HTC and Google will be, however. A number of observers have not been impressed with the strength of Motorola’s patents, and Apple knew about Motorola’s patent portfolio and still sued Motorola. But it shows that Google is wading deeper into this fight, as it probably has no choice now. If Apple keeps up the pressure, the patent claims could undermine a lot of the gains Android has made in the U.S. and abroad.

Image courtesy of Flickr user U.S. Army. 

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  1. It was my impression that the Motorola acquisition was not complete yet, thus Google couldn’t possibly donate patents from this deal to HTC. Poor reporting.

    1. Then again, these developments are somewhat confusing. Was there an earlier patent exchange between Google and Motorola?

      1. yeah, it’s not exactly clear when the transfer happened though Bloomberg said all the patents were picked up in the last year. So it might be prior to the sale or outside of it. But the larger point is Google is stepping up its defense of HTC and Android.

  2. I.P. is a strange Beast. Who Licensed what, where and when, after who thought of what where and when, from what proof trail of Intellectual Property are we now referring to? All the way back to the original Copyright Drawing’s if there are any to prove the Patent Claim’s from both sides. My I.P. Dates (C) Copyright 1979-20112_All Rights Reserved. VINCIAZEE*(TM)-MUSICEZEE*(TM).

  3. What exactly makes Florian Mueller an “expert” on patents? That he has a blog about them? Is he even a lawyer? Does being wrong many times still make him an “expert”?

    The only thing he seems to be an expert in is making Google look bad by twisting the stories.

    http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/07/the-bombshell-that-wasnt-foss-patents-android-scoop-misses-the-mark/

    1. “Is he even a lawyer?”

      With respect, are you?

      1. No, he’s just a Google shill that spreads Google propaganda on every major blog on the net.

  4. All too simple. With nine less patents to protect itself, Apple should simply sue Google directly.

  5. There seems to be so much misguided news in regards to this. It’s going to be interesting to see how this all pans out in the end. Google has it out for Apple in a big way and vice versa. HTC is definitely going to benefit from all this. Don;t be surprised to see HTC become another google acquisition in the near future before it’s all said and done.

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