Google: Just In Case

For some reason the Google news about the acquisition of Motorola Mobility made me think of a song about nuclear proliferation written by Tom Lehrer for the 1965 album That Was The Year That Was.  The rift is below, and the core strategic principle holds true for Google…especially if you sub out the word “Lord” for Google’s steadfast belief in openness.  (This song was written at a time when Egypt and Israel were openly hostile.)

Egypt’s gonna get one too,
Just to use on you know who.
So Israel’s getting tense.
Wants one in self defense.
“The Lord’s our shepherd,” says the psalm,
But just in case, we better get a bomb.

Google, I imagine, faces the reality that wars are often caused by undefended wealth, and that in many ways Android was/is undefended by patents when compared to the patent portfolios available to competitors.  Sometimes an adequate arsenal of your own is the only way to imagine peace on your terms.  There is no denying that when in the hands of rational actors, weapons of merit can keep the peace.

The weak cannot grant peace.  Only the strong can.  In the IP technical arena, acquiring enforceable patents and the means to enforce them is an important way to become strong.  Buying patent portfolios, a central feature of the Motorola Mobility acquisition, does not mean that Google is or must give up the idea of openness as a business strategy for its IP.  It just needs a way to defend its strategy from competitors who have their own interests in mind and otherwise a way to attack Google at an advantage.  In a sense, the better Google can enforce exclusivity if it wants to, the more open it may be able to become.

Image credit: United States Department of Energy

3 Comments on “Google: Just In Case

  1. What I found interesting is that now Google effectively
    became the competitor of it partners (e.g. other handset manufacturers using
    the Android system). I think Google will most likely want to keep the status of
    the current relationships going as they are… the threat that Motorola might get
    preferential treatment however is already out there and interpreted by the
    markets as a potential opening for Windows operating system and Nokia (perception
    also captured in Nokia’s recent share price). The ball is in Google’s court – it
    will be interesting to see how they will manage this relationship ambiguity –
    especially given the public scrutiny the industry is under at the moment.

  2. Although its entry into the patent-war big leagues didn’t start out very smoothly, perhaps Google is better off now with the IBM and Motorola portfolios than with the Nortel patents. It will certainly have more patents at its disposal now than if it had bid higher than Pi at the Nortel auction.

  3. Pingback: Links – Wikileaks Betrayed, Germany’s East Texas, Spying | Techrights

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