Tuning up the Ratio

Tuning up the Ratio

Article from Issue 131/2011

As is so often the case in this business, a big, earthshaking news story hit the press just as we were sending our own issue to the printer.

Of course, big stories happens all the time, and it seems like we are always printing something, so we take these collisions in stride. In this case, the news is that Google just bought Motorola Mobility for US$ 12.5 billion – a pretty big expense for a company like Google that has always prided itself on being the quintessential web company, with no complicated manufacturing or other corporeal uncertainties gumming up the path to the customer. Google’s strategy has always been so pure – just programming, marketing, and managing data. Since when did they want to start making and distributing electronic devices? What’s next? TVs? Toothpaste?

It only took a few hours for the news sites to pick up on the real story. This tale is about patents. Unlike many more conventional companies, Google never really got into the patent game. Even when they started working on Android – a new frontier for which they seemed fully prepared technically – they really didn’t come to play legally. The game with patents is about attacking the weakest opponent. If I have patents and you don’t, I will sue you mercilessly. If you have patents and I have reason to fear you will sue me back, I leave you alone.

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