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Google increases patent arsenal

19 September 2011

With its recent acquisition of 1,023 patents from IBM, Google now owns approximately 20,000 patents.

Previously, Google has lagged behind its competitors in developing a substantial patent portfolio and, as a result, has been seen in some quarters as vulnerable to patent infringement litigation. However, following its acquisition of Motorola Mobility in August, and the recent acquisition of patents from IBM, Google has put itself in a position where it could respond to infringement threats with its own ‘cold war’-like threat of mutually assured destruction. Alternatively, Google may be plotting its own infringement claim offensive.

Patents are increasingly the weapon of choice for technology companies looking to maintain a competitive edge. A potentially beneficial result of this is that the need to avoid a competitor’s patents may sometimes promote innovation and create new patentable technologies.

In the meantime, no comfort is given to smaller companies, which may struggle to afford the costs of ensuring that their innovative ideas do not infringe the patent portfolios of the technology “super-powers”.

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