January 4, 2012
Google Acquires More IBM Patents
Google Inc.´s patent portfolio has gotten a little bit bigger as it has acquired nearly 220 patents and patent applications from IBM, adding to the nearly 2,000 patents it had previously bought from the computer giant over the past year.
The patents, first reported by the blog SEO by the Sea, cover aspects of email management, ecommerce, network performance, and even one patent that could aid Google´s own social network: Google+.The patents also include several smartphone-related technologies that could help Google in its efforts to compete with Apple´s Siri personal digital assistant.
Among the most interesting of the IBM patents purchased by Google, is US Patent 7,865,592: “Using semantic networks to develop a social network.” That patent covers ways of establishing common interests of different users of a social network by analyzing the content of posts to find topics in common.
“A method, apparatus and program product are provided for identifying common interests between users of a communication network. “¦ [Interests] may be determined, for example, by calculating a ratio of the number of words in a content source to the time spent viewing the content,” describes the patent summary.
The latest batch of IBM patents were acquired by Google on December 20, 2011. Google has been struggling to fend off litigation from several companies, including Oracle, which is suing it over various Java-related patents. The IBM patents could give Google a negotiating tactic if it can find any that Oracle can plausibly be claimed to have violated, encouraging Oracle to settle for a cross-licensing agreement.
As for IBM, it will not miss the patents -- it has plenty more. In 2010, it became the first company ever to be granted more than 5,000 patents in a single year.
Google officials in the past have said that acquiring patents helps the company prevent and defend itself from intellectual-property lawsuits.
With an eruption of IP-related lawsuits in the mobile market, it is safe to assume that many mobile-related patents Google acquires are meant to strengthen its ability to fight lawsuits, IDC analyst William Stofega told Juan Carlos Perez of IDG News.
“Google has had a great run with what they´ve done so far and it's clear their patent portfolio isn´t as rich as those of others, especially in mobile,” said Stofega. “If you´re going to be a mobile platform player, you need to make sure you have your ducks in a row regarding intellectual property.”
By strengthening its patent portfolio, Google will be that much stronger in its defense of Android. A big reason behind the search giant´s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility was to get its hands on Motorola´s treasure trove of 24,000+ patents and applications.
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