Does Google Have A Patent Problem… Or Does The Patent System Have A Google Problem?
from the oddities dept
If you follow patents in the tech world, a good site to watch is LatestPatents.com, which highlights a few big tech companies, listing out the number of patent applications published each week and patents granted each week. What always strikes me is the differences in numbers between the companies. For example, last week, Google had seven patent applications published and seven patents granted. Compare that to Microsoft, which had 35 patent applications published and 40 patents granted. Apple had 21 applications published and 21 patents granted. IBM is, of course, king of them all with 122 patent applications published and 118 patents granted last week alone.
The numbers are pretty consistent, really.
Anyway, Google’s patent policy is getting some attention as it’s announced that it’s bidding on Nortel’s patents almost entirely as an attempt to keep them out of the hands of patent trolls. As we noted last year, all that’s left of Nortel is a big patent portfolio, which we expected to end up with Intellectual Ventures or some other patent troll. However, Google is hoping to step in and explained its reasoning, noting that it would prefer real patent reform, but it recognizes that it may need to buy this portfolio as a defensive move to keep it from getting sued and hopes that it allows greater innovation.
Amazingly, patent supporters are interpreting this as being Google having to “catch up” on “patent ownership,” as if the company has made a huge mistake in not going patent crazy in its early years. That entire article seems to take the position that not patenting everything was a “mistake” on Google’s part, rather than a recognition that patents aren’t necessary for innovation, and actually may be a hindrance to innovation. Now that Google is being pushed to shell out close to a billion dollars just to get some patents it doesn’t really seem to want or need, shouldn’t that be evidence that the patent system has a Google problem, in that Google didn’t (and doesn’t) really need patents to innovate, rather than Google having a patent problem?