Google finally cleared on its ‘defensive’ deal

Contact: Brenon Daly

Like any weapon, intellectual property (IP) can be wielded both for offense and defense. That’s worth remembering now that Google has basically been cleared to (finally) close its $12.5bn acquisition of Motorola Mobility, which it announced last August. The purchase adds some 17,000 Motorola Mobility patents to an ever-growing portfolio at Google, which has been a busy buyer of IP from IBM over the past year, as well.

In order to win regulatory approval in various jurisdictions around the globe, the search giant went out of its way to assure government bodies – as well as mobile handset manufacturers located around the world – that its Android operating system would remain freely available to all. More than a few of the 50-odd vendors that put out Android-based mobile devices expressed fear that Motorola phones and tablets might get ‘favorite child’ status from Google as the OS provider got into the hardware business in a big way.

But Google has eased those concerns (for now, at least) and seems to be focusing on shoring up the defense of Android so that other OEMs can use it without worrying about legal fallout. There’s a fair bit of irony in that, as Google itself is currently a defendant in a patent-related lawsuit that came about because a tech giant announced a multibillion-dollar deal in part driven by IP. Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems in 2009 – at the time referring to Java as the ‘most important’ software Oracle had ever acquired – and then brought a case alleging that Google infringed on Java copyrights and patents in mid-2010.

For more real-time information on tech M&A, follow us on Twitter @MAKnowledgebase.