Nortel

Why Google lashed out at Apple and Microsoft

August 4, 2011: 6:24 AM ET

Android is in deep trouble on the patent front, and its top lawyer knows it

Source: Google

Google's (GOOG) chief legal counsel's angry screed on the company's official blog in which he accuses Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) of waging a hostile, organized, anti-competitive campaign against Android through dubious and bogus patents (adjectives all his) may be remembered as one of the most misguided briefs any high-tech lawyer has ever written.

Not that David Drummond is wrong about Google's competitors using the patent system to fight Android. They are. It's that he doesn't have a leg to stand on. Let us count the reasons why.

  • Drummond accuses Google's competitors of overpaying for "bogus" patents. But if Nortel's 6,000 patents were bogus, why did Google start the bidding at nearly $1 billion and why was it willing to pay nearly the full $4.5 billion they eventually went for? (See Apple takes the patent wars seriously. Google not so much.)
  • He accuses Microsoft and Apple of "get[ting] into bed" to keep Google from getting access to key patents. But Microsoft says Google turned down its offer to jointly bid for some Novell patents, and it has the e-mail to prove it.
  • Drummond's post is titled "When patents attack Android." But as Daring Fireball's John Gruber suggests, "It's not 'patents' that are attacking Android. It's competing companies whose patents Google has violated — and whose business Android undermines — who are attacking Android."
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