Android, the mobile operating system from Google has rocketed to 48% during the last two years. Market Analysts think that Android can one day be as dominant in the market as Microsoft did in 1990s. But the continuous patent wars on mobile software can bring down the Google’s growth. A month ago Google had accused its big technology rivals (including Apple and Microsoft ) of ganging up to muzzle further innovation in its free mobile phone operating system Android.
Oracle is demanding the search giant pay billion for using its Java mobile software. Apple has sued Taiwan-based HTC for violating its patents,and on July 15 a judge found in favor of the iPhone maker,which could result in a American import ban on certain HTC phones.
On August 10 Apple prevented Samsung (supplier of some of the most critical components to iPhone and iPad ) from launching its tablet Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Europe. Just two months ago Apple had paid Nokia an undisclosed but big amount (rumored to be million ) for infringement of mobile handset patents. Apple has also sued Nokia for patent violations.
Such suing and counter suing by rivals isn’t unique to the tech world. What is different is that many of these companies are also close and confidential collaborators. The almost simultaneous display of friendship and animosity has led to the coinage of a new term frenemy.
Patent lawsuits are often predictable. Company A sues Company B for copying an invention or proprietary technology. Company B digs through its own patent hoard,finds one it can accuse Company A of violating,and counter sues. The two parties end up signing cross-licensing agreements that give the companies the rights to each others patents.
If the analyze the patent portfolio of Google , it is comparatively weaker than its enemies. Google has applied for or received a total of 307 mobile-related patents,compared with 3,134 for Research In Motion,2,655 for Nokia,and 2,594 for Microsoft. Google is trying to address that imbalance. In July it kicked off the bidding for the patent portfolio of Nortel. ts million offer lost out to a billion bid from a consortium that includes Apple,Microsoft,RIM,and Sony,though Google that same month did purchase 1,000 patents from IBM. Shares of cellular technology developer Inter Digital have leapt 59 percent since it announced it was putting itself up for sale,with many investors expecting Apple and Google to battle over the company patents. Intellectual property experts don’t think Google or its partners will be sued into submission,or that Android will succumb to death by a thousand lawsuits.