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Google Calls Apple, Microsoft’s Reliance on Bogus Patents to be Anti-Competitive

There is no denying that the competition inside the smartphone industry is currently fierce. With major players such as Apple, Google and Microsoft all vying for the domination of the market. And these companies are no stranger either when it comes to legal battles as they have been at each other's throats for quite some time now, especially Apple and Microsoft. Now, Google Inc. has issued a statement that claims that Apple and Microsoft are in "bed together" against Android using the power of patents.

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The statement was posted in Google's official blog by David Drummond, Google's Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer. In case you do not know, Apple and Microsoft have been quite sue-happy lately, with companies like Samsung, Motorola and HTC getting the bad end of the stick for allegedly infringing various patents which covers both software and hardware. The three companies are notable for being the top Android smartphone vendors.

At first Drummond cites the success of Android smartphones for the reason behind these patent lawsuits:

Android is on fire. More than 550,000 Android devices are activated every day, through a network of 39 manufacturers and 231 carriers. Android and other platforms are competing hard against each other, and that’s yielding cool new devices and amazing mobile apps for consumers.

And according to Drummond, the success of the Android platform has bred an orchestrated campaign against it with companies like Apple, Microsoft, Oracle among many others, using what he referred to as "bogus" patents:

But Android’s success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.

They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the “Rockstar” group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Phone 7; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.

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Drummond states that with all these patent infringement charges being thrown around, manufacturing of Android smartphones have become increasingly tough for its vendors. He says, patents are supposed to encourage innovations but in this it is used as an anti-competitive strategy. But Drummond says that Google has a plan and at all cost will stop those who are trying to strangle the competitive edge of Android.

We’re looking intensely at a number of ways to do that. We’re encouraged that the Department of Justice forced the group I mentioned earlier to license the former Novell patents on fair terms, and that it’s looking into whether Microsoft and Apple acquired the Nortel patents for anti-competitive means. We’re also looking at other ways to reduce the anti-competitive threats against Android by strengthening our own patent portfolio. Unless we act, consumers could face rising costs for Android devices — and fewer choices for their next phone.

Currently, Android is the fastest growing smartphone operating system. It would be interesting to see how Google will be able to handle all the lawsuits being thrown in their way. But the company seems to be confident that it will able to thwart it all. [via Google Official Blog]

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