For years, despite being the defendant in tons of patent suits, and despite having a decent patent portfolio of its own, Google had never gone on the offensive with its patents against others. With the purchase of Motorola Mobility, it inherited an ongoing court case against Apple, which was unceremoniously dumped
by Judge Posner. However, now there's news that Motorola Mobility has gone to the ITC to seek an injunction against Apple
for the iPhone, iPad and some of its computers as well. Filing at the ITC can only lead to an injunction, rather than monetary damages, but the threat of an injunction is pretty big no matter what, and can often force a company to pay up.
What's disappointing here is that, even though this is coming from the Motorola side of things, as far as I can tell, it's the first time that Google itself could be described as a patent aggressor. For a company that had been coming out vocally
about just how broken the patent system was, and which seemed to be fighting the good fight on stopping such abuses of patents to block competition, this is disappointing.
Yes, it's typical for companies, as they get bigger, older and less innovative, to start becoming patent aggressors, but Google had kept away from doing so for a long time, and certainly appeared, publicly, to have no interest in going down this road. Combined with the company's recent decision to cave on copyright
issues as well, it seems that Google is taking some dangerous steps around copyright and patent law -- both of which may go against its own long-term best interests.