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Google believes that by combining powers with OEMs, it can keep Android safe, legally

Google Inc. (GOOG) is the world's biggest smartphone operating system maker in terms of market share.  But it and its partner OEMs are facing legal assaults from all angles.  Some lawsuits are coming from the typical patent troll firms.  Others come from competitors who want see Google's products banned [1][2][3][4] [5][6][7][8] [9][10][11] (e.g. Apple, Inc. (AAPL)), and still others come from large companies looking for lucrative licensing deals [1][2][3] (e.g. Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)).

I. "If We Don't Hang Together... We Shall Hang Separately

Thus far only Oracle has directly attack Google over alleged Android intellectual property infringements.  Microsoft and Apple have focused their attacks on the OEMs (although Apple is indirectly suing Google through its subsidiary Motorola Mobility).  

Some have complained that Google is doing too little to protect its OEM partners.  But on a Wednesday visit to Taipei, Taiwan, Google's Eric Schmidt promised to offer a greater legal defense to its partners.  He commented, "We tell our partners, including the ones here in Taiwan, we will support them. For example we have been supporting HTC in its dispute with Apple because we think that the Apple thing is not correct."

Eric Schmidt
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has enjoyed a whirlwind tour of Asia, consolidating his partners' legal might in a mutual defense of Android. [Source: EPA]

Mr. Schmidt's comment refers to a sale of intellectual property, which HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) purchased from Google at a dramatically discounted price.  HTC had very little intellectual property to countersue with when Apple first sued it in 2010.  But thanks to the Google IP acquisition and the acquisition of graphics patents from recently purchased chipmaker S3 Graphics, HTC now has some legal fire power and is countersuing Apple.

The pledge of mutual defense is at least a little comforting to Android OEMs as it's the best case scenario for them to arise out of Google's recent $12.5B USD acquisition of Motorola Mobility.  That acquisition created fears that Google might favor its own handsets over third-party devices.  However, those fears do not appear to have been realized and it appears Google is primarily utilizing Motorola's IP for mutual defense as some had hoped.

Google has been outbid on several key patent acquisitions, including the Nortel portfolio, which was purchased by Microsoft, Apple, and others.  But with the Motorola Mobility IP trove, it still has significant legal resources, even as it eyes more acquisitions.

II. Apple is Biggest Threat, But Microsoft Could Tempt OEMs to Stray

At present the biggest threat to OEMs is arguably Apple.  Apple is seeking an outright ban on Android products from the platform's top three OEMs -- Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930); HTC; and Motorola Mobility.  Apple has a burning hatred for Android.  Late CEO Steven P. Jobs called Android a "stolen" platform and pledged to spend his company's entire fortune to "destroy" Android, after the Google platform passed his company's in market share.

Microsoft offers a more subtle threat as the fees are stacking up and some Asian phonemakers like Samsung or HTC are reportedly considering upping Windows Phone production in response to the decreasing Android profit margins.  

HTC Titan
Rising Android costs has some OEMs like HTC contemplating mutiny -- upping Microsoft Windows Phone production and reducing production of Android handsets.
[Source: PocketPC Forums]

Comments Concord Securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo, "Android hardware companies and supply chain are mostly from Taiwan. The main purpose of Schmidt's trip for this time should be to gain more support and closer collaboration with the Taiwanese here.  Taiwanese vendors have been users of Windows operating system in the past, especially the handset vendors, so Google has to come here to get more support for its applications in the tablets and, possibly, personal computers in the future."

Mr. Schmidt, Google's current Board Chairman and former Chief Executive, visited with Samsung and LG Electronics, Inc. (KS:066570) on Tuesday, looking to plan mutual strategy in terms of IP defense and drum up ongoing support for Android.  

III. Making Friends in China

The Google executive also looked to garner support from handset makers in China, a crucial emerging market, where Google has clashed with government regulators in the past.  Earlier in the week Mr. Schmidt visited China's capital city, Beijing.

On Wednesday he had supportive words of Google's commitment to China commenting that Google wanted "to serve China's citizens within the limits the government allowed."

Huawei phones
Google's chairman also visited China, home to several key partners. [Source: VR Zone]

It's hard to say exactly what to take away from Mr. Schmidt's weekend in Asia or his big commitments to helping protect Asian Android OEMs.  The proof of the company's true level of commitment -- and how much that intervention helps the partners -- will be seen in the court cases that are going to unfold in international markets over the next year.

At the very least, though, Google seems to be starting to get the correct perspective.  After all you don't start a revolution without unity.  In the words attributed to the Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, "If we don't hang together, by Heavens we shall hang separately."

The quote certainly sums up the legal plight of Google and its partners tidily.

Source: Reuters



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"a burning hatred for Android"
By adiposity on 11/9/11, Rating: 0
RE: "a burning hatred for Android"
By JasonMick (blog) on 11/9/2011 7:09:37 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Gotta love when a statement like that, attributing emotions to a corporation, is backed up by...another post from the same author.

Derp.

Google Pledges to Defend Partners Against Apple, Microsoft
Jason Mick (Blog) - November 9, 2011 4:00 PM


Steve Jobs: "I'm Going to Destroy Android, Because It's a Stolen Product"
Brandon Hill (Blog) - October 20, 2011 10:45 PM


quote:
That said, I think Microsoft is the bigger threat here. While they technically allow Android phones to exist by licensing their questionable patents, the fees are so high that they basically become the profiteer of the platform. They can also raise the fees. Eventually no one will want to bundle Android as other options are cheaper.

And Google may not want to work on a platform that requires all handset makers to pay Microsoft more than they pay Google...

True that, though. The MSFT threat is subtle, but serious.

If only Xerox had done that to Apple and MSFT when they copied its tech, imagine where we'd be now!


RE: "a burning hatred for Android"
By adiposity on 11/9/2011 11:30:28 PM , Rating: 2
Doh.

My mistake, Jason. That was Brandon's article. I still think a corporation shouldn't be assigned emotions, though.

Apologies for the error.


RE: "a burning hatred for Android"
By Solandri on 11/10/2011 3:41:24 AM , Rating: 3
Don't anthropomorphize corporations. They don't like it when you do that.


RE: "a burning hatred for Android"
By aliasfox on 11/10/2011 9:05:56 AM , Rating: 2
OT, but I had always heard that Apple had Xerox's blessing to capitalize on the interface, whereas MS didn't?


RE: "a burning hatred for Android"
By messele on 11/10/11, Rating: 0
RE: "a burning hatred for Android"
By markhahn on 11/10/2011 12:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
don't rewrite history: lots of people were doing GUIs by the time apple hooked up with parc. msft was just a little late to the game already in progress. remember lisp machines, smalltalk, perq? apple is a company that makes a good business packaging established technology.


RE: "a burning hatred for Android"
By messele on 11/10/2011 1:37:41 PM , Rating: 2
Let's see your cards then. Name a single company who created the GUI before Xerox or released before Apple.

Xerox Alto
Xerox Star
Apple Lisa
Apple Macintosh
Atari ST
Commodore Amiga
Microsoft Windows v1.0

That's the order, that's history. Microsoft entered the market in late 1985 with an unfinished product. They did not start work until 1982-83 when the saw what Apple were doing.

The truth may not be convenient but it cannot be ignored.


By cjohnson2136 on 11/10/2011 2:30:49 PM , Rating: 1
Who really cares. This has nothing to do with Google defending OEM from Apple and MSFT. All of you just shut it about damn history and who did the first GUI when.


RE: "a burning hatred for Android"
By RjBass on 11/11/2011 11:34:28 AM , Rating: 2
What year was Xerox Alto? I only ask because I was using a mouse with DosShell in 1988. DosShell wasn't much of a GUI but it was something.


By cdwilliams1 on 11/11/2011 12:15:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What year was Xerox Alto? I only ask because I was using a mouse with DosShell in 1988. DosShell wasn't much of a GUI but it was something.


1973 according to Wikipedia.....


RE: "a burning hatred for Android"
By batjohn on 11/9/2011 8:16:00 PM , Rating: 4
Personally if I have to accept a corporation as having the same rights as a person I'm going to believe they have emotions too.

I'll resist any Vulcan references.


Captain Android!
By vanionBB on 11/9/2011 4:40:29 PM , Rating: 3
It is about time really, makes you wonder why Google waited so long.




RE: Captain Android!
By Iaiken on 11/9/2011 4:49:04 PM , Rating: 4
Sometimes it's better to wait until your opponent shows his cards before you decide to show yours.

Thankfully, Apple's lawsuits have largely been a case of throwing crap against the wall and seeing what sticks.


RE: Captain Android!
By BladeVenom on 11/9/2011 4:56:32 PM , Rating: 2
Google also needed time to increase its patent portfolio.


RE: Captain Android!
By masamasa on 11/9/2011 6:49:30 PM , Rating: 2
Yup. Good job Google, kick some ass.


RE: Captain Android!
By InvertMe on 11/10/11, Rating: -1
seems to me...
By grandpope on 11/9/2011 5:36:51 PM , Rating: 2
That DT should show pictures of Apple or Android phones and not Blackberrys in this article.




RE: seems to me...
By InfinityzeN on 11/10/2011 8:30:04 AM , Rating: 2
It's not a BB Phone, its a WP7 Phone.


All for one and one for all.
By drycrust3 on 11/10/2011 9:59:33 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
But thanks to the Google IP acquisition and the acquisition of graphics patents from recently purchased chipmaker S3 Graphics, HTC now has some legal fire power and is countersuing Apple.

What I find frustrating here is that HTC, Samsung, etc are having to deal with this themselves.
Android is the product of the Open Handset Alliance, of which Google is just one partner, to me the fact that a company is a member of that alliance should also require that they will support other members with their intellectual property, and be supported by the other members as much as possible, very much in the same vein as the famous Three Musketeers motto "All for one and one for all". That way, instead of just HTC having to deal with Microsoft, Apple, etc, or just Samsung, or just Motorola having to deal with them it becomes Apple vs the Open Handset Alliance or Microsoft vs the Open Handset Alliance.
As others have said, if a company that is selling computers with legal copies of Windows on them is threatened for patent or copyright violations they simply tell that law company to go and speak to Microsoft.




Big Deal
By Oyster on 11/9/2011 7:50:15 PM , Rating: 2
Schmidt was more or less demoted. He is like Biden, opening his pie hole without any clout to back those words. Oracle, MS, and Apple are for-profit firms, who believe in closed systems - it is hard to believe Google would react any differently if someone else came up with a better search algorithm. You can't expect to enter someone else's market, and hope to get by without being challenged.

In fact, I kind of blame Google for not acquiring Sun when they had the chance. They pretty much sat on the huge cash stockpile while Larry worked his magic behind closed doors. Even the Motorola acquisition was delayed - as is this latest war of words and sympathy for their partners is, kind of, late.




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