Aug 11 AT 2:43 PM Dustin Earley 32 Comments

Patent wars: Could Motorola kill Android from the inside out?


Up to this point, all of Android’s patent related woes have come from what Google calls a “hostile, organized campaign” against the company. Major manufacturers and software developers have been ganging up left and right. Public statements are being used against previous partners. And things are about to get a lot worse.

You see, if Android’s patent struggle is against competing companies, then there are ways to fight back. Buying patent portfolios, partnering with another major company or even taking the it’s-not-fair argument to court are all viable options. But if the war is taken onto home turf, if things erupt from the inside out, then there will be blood.

Motorola owns quite possibly the healthiest patent portfolio in the mobile industry. To put it into perspective, Nortel owns just 6,000. InterDigital, who’s portfolio is rumored to catch some $5 billion dollars at auction, owns around 9,000. Nokia, who’s been around for about as long as Motorola, has 10,000. Apple also owns nearly 10,000. And Motorola owns a whopping 17,000, just some 3,000 short of patent master Microsoft. As you can see, Motorola is certainly in a position of power when it comes to a mobile patent war.

Until now, some have suggested Motorola could be Android’s saving grace. If Google were to do something crazy like, oh say, buy Motorola Mobility, then Google would have enough ammo to win this war. But it looks like a very different scenario could be coming to light. During his recent appearance at the Oppenhimer Technology & Communication conference, Sanjay Jha made a comment that should have Google on edge:

I would bring up IP as very important for differentiation (among Android vendors). We have a very large IP portfolio, and I think in the long term, as things settle down, you will see a meaningful difference in positions of many different Android players. Both in terms of avoidance of royalties, as well as potentially being able to collect royalties. And that will make a big difference to people who have very strong IP positions.Sanjay JhaMotorola Mobility

Essentially, Motorola will be looking to differentiate themselves from rapidly expanding companies like Samsung and HTC by collecting royalties from them. If this were to ever happen (especially if accompanied by the other major players in the industry who also want their share of the royalties), Motorola would be killing Android from the inside out. When one of Android’s biggest supporters would rather collect royalties from rival manufacturers than help the platform survive, it’s certainly not a good sign.

There’s no telling when or if Motorola will start the necessary paperwork to do something like this. It’s their legal right to demand royalties from other companies infringing on their patents, but it would do nothing other than further harm Android and Google’s position in the patent war. And right now, it doesn’t look good to begin with.

Source: TechCrunch

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • keridel

    its just mre proof hoof how poor a company motorola are. the xoom has failed (their own fault) and their other phones arent selling that well. so lets grab money where we can.

    if the OHA worked together with their patent portfolios they could knock apple out the water. then turn to competitive selling. but instead they wil destroy themselves. for shame.

    • Gesus

      You’ve got to be kidding!

      Moto was in their death bed just 2 years ago. The u turn they’ve made has been amazing.

    • Jon Garrett

      Motorola’s Xoom was a failure because of the price and for no other reason. they came into the tablet game thinking they could take on the iPad 2 by being an outrageous $300 more expensive ?!?!?

      As much as I hate Apple, I would buy a $500 iPad over an $800 Motorola any day.

      • keridel

        teh xoom has only sold in any numbers in the US in the rest of the world they sold almost none. and you know why?

        because they dont care about their customers

        motorola have the worst reputation of any mobile manafacturer in the world.


      • JayMonster

        Except this is patently untrue. The Xoom was comparably priced to the iPad with equal specs.

        But why let a little thing like facts get in the way of a good rant, huh?

  • ben dover

    I could see Google taking their Gapps blessing away if Moto steps too far out of bounds and really starts hurting the platform.

    • Dustin Earley

      Wow. That would be intense.

    • AME

      I don’t know… that would just create yet another bitter patent troll. I think the OHA needs to sit down and work something out. Revoking their rights to use Android would be a last resort scenario.

      • hoosiercub

        It wouldn’t revoke their right to use Android, but it would revoke their right to use Google Apps, so.. No Market, Gmail, Voice, Plus, etc etc etc.. Think older Android Tablets from

        • AME

          Sorry- I should have said “Gapps,” not “Android.” Android without Gapps would be very confusing for the customer when they walk into the store. Not only do they have to sort through the million phones out, then they need to decide if they want Gmail or if they want plain Android or WP7 or iPhone… It would make the casual user’s head explode.


    wow does it ever end? is the ford family going to come out a demand every car company to pay them royalties? Is atari going to demand every company who has made a console pay them royalties? this has to stop somewhere// before you know it there is going to be a battle royal among manufacturers and the consumer is going to be the one hurt

  • DroidSamurai

    Well, it’s not much a surprise. After all, Motorola is the maker of the first commercial cellular phone. Also, keep in mind that Motorola is a telecommunication company at its heart. Chances are most of its patents are somewhat related to telecommunication, but it may not be this case for Apple and Microsoft.

    However, judging from what Sanjay was saying, it seems that they aren’t looking into profiting from their patents now, as he was saying:

    … I think in the long term, as things settle down …

    I think they know it will be a suicide to the newly created mobile company if they try to profit from the patent and alienate Google. As far as I can tell, Motorola Mobility, unlike HTC and Samsung, only makes Android phones. Even though Android is open source, as we have seen, Google can still make an OEM’s life difficult.

  • Zer0-9

    whoa whoa whoa. I think some people are taking this out of context. Let’s give Moto the benefit of the doubt for a moment.

    Another way of interpreting what he said is that different Android vendors will seek to differentiate themselves AND AVOID ROYALTIES and also a sharing of IP between Android vendors and collecting royalties (mutually assured success).

    This is the general way of business really. Look at iOS, so much of it’s popular features at launch were dependent on Google services, and I would imagine Google made a hefty profit off of that fact.

    • keridel

      thats a good point. i looked at it from the negative just because i dont like them.

      +1 to you :)

    • Bob

      +1 It can also be read like this: “We will sue Apple, RIM and other non-Android companies for now and scare the shit out of them, making a nice profit in the process. Other Android manufacturers are welcome to agree with us on how to use our patents against those suing them (read rotten fruit). Maybe much later, if we’re doing not very well, we will also think of going after fellow Android manugacturers…”

  • Veper

    What I don’t understand is Google was willing to pay 3,14 billion for Nortel’s 6000 patents, but got overbid. Today, Motorola Mobility’s market cap is around 7 billion. Why Google doesn’t just buy MMI for their 17000 patents with their spare cash and rescue the Android for good?

    • Breakernyc

      Well done sir!! Shoulda bought stock

  • Nathan

    If this ever happen we should all boycott moto to teach them a lesson or something to send them a message to not do that!

  • Semajhan

    Moto has always sucked. Droid series are not that great either. I don’t know what all the hype was about.

  • mmalakai10

    look i just dont want to see android go down becuz of any company that dont like it growth. apple and microsoft are like spoiled brats buying patents just to watch android fail. apple wasnt concerned at all when android 1st started. microsoft is mad becuz they cant sell a phone so save there company life. no if google buys motorola then apple and microsoft is in trouble. i hope android comes outta this patent war laughing at both apple and microsoft.

  • luiek20

    Motorola just pissed me off right now!

  • JayMonster

    Wow… what a joke of a post! Take a sentence out of context… where the question of the day is what Motorola Mobility is going to do with the threatof Aple lawsuits and patent infringement claims, and how it will affect the stock … and you turn it into a hit piece alleging (with nothing in the statement to back it up) that they are going to sue the other Android manufacturers!

    Way to stir the trolls! Now we have an open forum to bash Motorola for something new… something didn’t say… just because you want them to appear evil!

    Nice job! It appears to be working, you got haters and boycotters all line up already based on your innuendo.

  • aj

    they will essentially be bitting the hand that feeds them.i Will thoroughly boycott moto if they do this And i tell all my friends not to buy moto devices cause they are pieces of crap. Ok so i sound like the angry customer at the restaurant who comes back anyways( i know i work at a fast food joint). But seriously thought i will hate moto if they do this and i may act like that angry customer. The only difference is its not as easy to come back to a another manufactuers phone as it is to come back to a fast food restaurant when your stuck with a phone for 2 years. Lest you have money to buy a new one but i will never buy a moto phone again if they do this. I would want them to perish.

  • Lou

    I think the comment was taken outta context. A company that has been resurrected by android would be foolish to attempt such a stunt. I still think motorola makes the worst android phones out there so it wouldn’t surprise me but it would be counter-productive.

  • Renato M.

    motoFAIL is a joke! they do all the things wrong, I just stopped buying their things, I gave them a chance once, and they blew it, never more.

    - promissed unlocked bootloader, never delivered #FAIL
    - blamed consumers and app developers for poor performance of Atrix #FAIL
    - attempt of cannibalism in Android environment via patents #FAIL

    It just proves that they were almost broke and then they bet every penny in the Android, but they never really tried to understand what is Android or the Android community and they kept doing things the same old way that they were doing when, ironically, they were about to be broke and to that direction they shall go.

  • http://Note Uncemister


  • Sterling

    The ONLY thing moto needs to do to stay relevant is to get rid of Blur. stock android bitches!

  • dave

    “If Google were to do something crazy like, oh say, buy Motorola Mobility, then Google would have enough ammo to win this war.”

    There you go – looks like google might have the last laugh, at least in this episode of the current patent war.

  • Zer0-9

    I officially declare this article null and void.

  • Tyler David Sherman

    The squeaky wheel gets $20B.

  • Norman

    So fun to read these comments after the buyout…

    • Alex

      Agreed lol