IBM Corp. has sold approximately 1000 patents (pending and issued) to Google Inc. two weeks ago. The purchase was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office so as to strengthen Google’s patent portfolio.
It’s become more and more important over the years for tech companies to have many patents to back up their technologies used. Law suits are becoming common in the IT industry as companies try to keep a technological edge on competitors, and when they see that a competitor has a similar technology they want compensation for the use or to halt the usage completely.
At the moment Apple Inc. has a lawsuit filed against mobile phone producers using Google’s Android smart-phone platform. , If found guilty, it’s probable that the defendants allegedly using Apple’s technology would have to pay Apple for the use, while continuing to use the technology. An outcome in court could take years.
Having a store of patents means that after being sued the defendant can counter-sue based on the use of their own technology by the plaintiff. Of course if this happens, the companies usually settle or drop their lawsuits entirely.
Although many patents in Google’s most recent acquisition are not related to their core business, it remains to give Google a stronger position for patent litigation. Google recently lost a bid on 6000 Nortel patents to a group, which included Apple, that paid $4.5 Billion USD for the patent collection. Google has obtained patents from both Motorola Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. over the previous year.