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Google Acquires More Patents to Defend Android

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When it comes to expanding the market for Android, Google isn’t just building technology, it’s also acquiring patents.

According to public documents available from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), IBM transferred 1,023 patents to Google this week. It’s not clear at this point how much money may be involved with the patent transfer. An IBM spokesperson told that IBM was not commenting on the transfer of patents to Google. Google did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

IBM is one of the world’s leading patent holders and this year celebrated the 100th anniversary of its first patent.

The patents that IBM is transferring to Google include items that are intended to help strengthen Google’s intellectual property portfolio for Android. The patents include both hardware and software inventions.

On the hardware side are items such as U.S. Patent # 6015955, which was issued in the year 2000. That particular patent is titled, “Reworkability solution for wirebound chips using high performance capacitor.”

On the software side are items like U.S. Patent # 6025842, titled, “System and method for window queues and white space activation for toggling.”

“Rapid toggling of application windows to the forefront of a computer monitor,” the USPTO patent abstract states. “One or more queues are established by a user comprising indicia representative of a sequence of a plurality of open application windows.”

Google’s Android operating system makes extensive use of multi-tasking capabilities, which may potentially be similar to the application window toggling in the IBM patent that Google now holds.

In addition to the new IBM patents, Google is set to acquire another patent trove by way of its acquisition of Motorola. Google announced its intention to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in August. As part of that acquisition, Google will gain some 16,000 Motorola Mobility patents.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Motorola has detailed that the acquisition by Google is being directly influenced by the patent situation.

According to Motorola’s filing, “in early July 2011, Andrew Rubin, Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google, contacted Dr. Jha, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Motorola Mobility, to request a meeting to discuss the purchase by some of Google’s competitors of the patent portfolio of Nortel Networks Corporation and its subsidiaries.”

Google bid $900 million for patents from bankrupt telecom vendor Nortel in April. Google ultimately lost the bid as the patents ended up being sold for $4.5 billion to a consortium of vendors including Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion and Sony.

According to Motorola’s SEC filing, Dr. Jha told Google executives that it could be problematic for Motorola Mobility to continue as a stand-alone entity if it sold a large portion of its patent portfolio. From there the discussion led to the sale of Motorola Mobility to Google.

Google’s Android has come under regular attack on the intellectual property front in recent years with Microsoft taking multiple actions against Android.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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