Of Motorola Mobility’s 17,000 (and 7,500 Pending) Patents, 18 Will Be Key to Protecting Android


Just the other day, we were wondering how much of Motorola Mobility’s patents Google actually valued and would use in their efforts to defend Android. In Google’s proposed purchase of MMI, they will take on 17,000 existing patents while another 7,500 are pending approval (and odds are they certainly will get that approval).

According to patent lawyer David Mixon, about 18 of Motorola’s patents will be key in Google’s defense of the fastest-growing smartphone operating system ever. Just what are these patents, you ask?

One patent from 2001 disables a “touch sensitive” sensor when a smartphone is near a user’s head to prevent inadvertent hang-ups or dialing. Another from 1994 aims to increase data storage, while a third enables users to control when a global positioning system sends their location data over a network.

If that is true, I’d say Google has a strong left hook waiting for Apple, RIM and Microsoft in the legal battlegrounds of the world. As I speculated last week, it’s entirely possible that Motorola wasn’t using patents they already own in defending themselves from Apple.

Other things supposedly covered in these coveted patents include touch-screen motions (though we’re not sure if that’s the same as proximity-based touchscreen disabling), software-application management and 3G cellular data technology.

So it looks like Google has a gold-mine they’re waiting to sink their teeth into (inappropriate given the circumstances?) but the acquisition still has to be approved. Let’s hope these will be enough to get Apple to call off the hounds. [Bloomberg]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. This whole episode is pretty dumb. Can’t wait until we get past this.

  2. hope this leads to less sueing and more innovating in the long run.

    1. Maybe android should have innovated instead of infringing on everyones patents.

      And no, this will change nothing. Microsoft and Apple werent afraid to sue motorola. nothing changes, those same weak patents are still the same weak patents.

      1. Obvious troll is obvious. Android most certainly did innovate. That’s why Apple’s last two iOS updates were able to copy Android’s features to improve their system. Patent trolling stifles innovation. I mean seriously, it must be at least somewhat obvious by now that the patent system is all out of whack. Having to license/pay for obvious shit like turning off the touch-screen when you hold the phone to your head… there are so many patents out there that just simply never should have been granted.

        1. oh no google is losing their lawsuits, and more android OEMs are getting sued everyday! the entire patent system and legal system MUST be broken because my favorite advertising company is losing a lawsuit.

          “obvious shit like turning off the touch-screen when you hold the phone to your head. there are so many patents out there that just simply never should have been granted. ”

          Yea Im sure that was so obvious in 1999. SO OBVIOUS. Go look up hindsight bias and never comment again.

          1. I know what hindsight bias is, you jackass. I also know how to read the article before commenting on it. That patent was from 2001, not 1999. However, if you feel that patent doesn’t accurately display the brokenness of the patent system, how about the one that awards Apple, and only Apple the right to have phones that unlock by sliding an icon across the screen? If you refuse to accept that as an obvious implementation that should never have been patented, then you are forced to accept that Apple blatantly stole it from Neonode.

            Refusing to see the patent system as broken simply because it’s working in the favor of your favorite company is ridiculous. Also, assuming that my assertion that it is broken is nothing more than fanboyism is a really ignorant stretch to make. Not to mention your antagonistic tone makes you sound like an angry little child.

      2. troll..and an idiot to boot

  3. All this speculation and crap about Google being interested in entering the hardware game was all nonsense. THIS is why they bought Moto.What took everybody so long to figure this out. As soon as they announced it I remembered that Moto lawsuit against Apple that everybody seems to have forgotten about. I basically wrote my own article in a comment on Engadget explaining it. If people believe Android is in trouble for possible injunctions at the hands of Oracle and Apple with the tablet suits then Apple is in trouble because that Moto suit covers almost their entire product line.

    So either Apple is going to settle in a deal very favorable for Android or they are going to get driven clean out of business. Where they once could have settled with Moto for relatively nothing they will not end up having to back off Android completely.

    1. everyone and their technophile grandma knew that they bought Moto for the patents, Google even said that in their announcement. The speculation was about what they would do with the hardware side of their acquisition. They can’t just abandon it and it would be wasting potential if they let it run as motorola had before. Moto didn’t do so well with android, they need help and Google will be happy to lend a hand. The speculation was about how they would help and what that could mean for us.

      1. “Moto didn’t do so well with android, they need help and Google will be happy to lend a hand” Really?! Remember less than two years ago, when Android was still a relatively obscure OS that most non-tech people never heard of, and even a lot of tech people really didn’t give it a second thought? Suddenly, in November 2009, a little device called the “Droid” was launched amid a massive ad-campaign and took Android from some obscure OS to a household name? The same phone that, to this day has many people referring to Android phones as “Droids” (regardless of OEM – I’ve heard EVOs referred to as ‘Droids’ by their owners)? Later, they launched the Droid X, which, like it or not, encrypted bootloader or not, was a VERY popular phone. You do know who the manufacturer was, don’t you?
        Moto didn’t do so well with Android. No, it didn’t, it did VERY well, and Android did well along with them. Yes, there are better phones out (obviously, it’s been awhile now), but to say that Moto hasn’t “done very well with Android” is misinformed at best.
        Credit where credit is due.

        1. Good points, but a bit out of date. While I still do have a fondness in my heart for Moto, they have been oen of the worst players in the Android game for over a year now. Credit where credit is due, sure, but certainly no more credit than is warranted.

          What it comes down to is that, yes, they did successfully launch Android into the mainstream–but they’ve fallen short ever since.

          1. I wasn’t trying to give them more credit than was due. I never said that they’ve been putting out the best phones consistently for two years. I stated very specifically “less than two years ago”, not “less than two months ago”. I wasn’t arguing with anyone. I was simply stating what should be obvious. To say that “Moto didn’t do so well with Android” is inaccurate at best.
            I think you misinterpreted my post. To make it very simple; “Motorola has done well with Android in the past, and very likely will again in the future.”
            I thought my initial response was fairly straightforward. I hope this clears up any confusion.

        2. I’m sorry but Verizon deserves the credit for all that ranting you just did. That phone could have been the LG “DROID” for all people care and it STILL would have been a slam hit thanks to Verizon’s ridiculously good ad campaign. No?

          1. *facepalm*
            “… was launched amid a massive ad-campaign”
            Huawei could’ve manufactured it and it would’ve been successful. You _did_ read the whole post. No?

            Pssst. It’s called “objectivity”. “Ranting” is what people like Richard Yarrell do :)

          2. “Huawei could’ve manufactured it and it would’ve been successful.”

            That’s all I needed to hear. I take back the “rant”

        3. youre a loser. motorola is in the red, they arent even profitable because theyr phones suck

    2. Whoever thought Google bought Motorola to build a Nexus Moto was effing crazy.

  4. “That’s like a Billion dollars a patent!!”

    1. thats like $12 billion for a company that has a bunch of useless featurephone patents

  5. I agree that they only bought it for the patents, but I think that Motorola Mobility will continue to make devices with Android on them. I don’t think that Google is going to kill MotoMobility.

  6. It’s the consumers who lose out the most with all the patent wars. The companies need to cover their legal costs to keep profits high, this will mean that the cost of phones will be priced higher (especially if companies manage to get some royalty agreement by receiving some amount of money per handset). Blocking another company from using specific functionality due to patents also has the possibility of handsets being less intuitive as they manufacturers may work around that issue with a less desirable way. Anyway, I hope this really does put an end to it all so that everyone can go back and compete where they should do…on the Products they manufacture.

    1. If the cost of handsets goes up due to litigation fees, etc., the extra cost is passed to the carriers who are the ones who buy the handset from the manufacturers. Carriers in turn subsidize the handset and make up for that loss through plans. That’s where the customer gets screwed.

  7. Except… proximity sensors don’t use touch! That’s what’s crazy about patents, they apply them way too broadly…

  8. > Let’s hope these will be enough to get Apple to call off the hounds.

    Let’s hope these will be enough to put the hounds down.

  9. They should pony up about 3 billion to HP for Palm and their portfolio. Everyone knows Palm owns the patent to the smartphone.

  10. I don’t understand why Google didn’t buy PALM when it was up for sale. PALM had a strong patent portfolio and could have bought at cheaper price than the MOTO. Didn’t HP pay 1.2b or something.. Google paid 10 times more and investors aren’t going to be very happy about this deal!

  11. Patents expire in 17 years. So Forget about the 1994 or earlier, it will be useless when the deal is closed.

    1. one of Apple’s patents that Samsung’s phones have “infringed upon” is from 92, the other is from 94 (or 96?) so by your estimation, Apple has no case against Samsung.

      That’d be nice, but for some reason i dont think that is the case…

      1. This is from an online source:

        When does a patent expire?

        This is not necessarily a clear-cut issue, but it is very important to understand for some types of patent searches and licensing issues, so read carefully:

        1. U.S. Patents filed after June 8, 1995 expire 20 years from the date of filing.

        2. U.S. Patents filed prior to June 8, 1995 expire 17 years from the date of issue, or 20 years from the first non-provisional patent application in the family – whichever is later.

        Number 2 is a mouthful there. When we say “the first non-provisional patent application in the family” what we really mean (most of the time) is just “the application.” But, we have to put it that way to be accurate, because Continuations-in-Part muck things up (you’ll hear about them later).

        Knowing how to calculate the expiration dates of patents is extremely important when conducting Infringement searches, because you only need to worry about patents that have not expired (which are referred to as being “in force”).

        1. Interesting. Good info to know.

          I wasn’t discounting your post, btw. I just wasn’t aware of how the expiration of patents worked and kinda just assumed Apple had beaten the system again.

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