Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) got a lot of attention in 2012 when it paid more than $12 billion for Motorola Mobility. It wasn’t about being a huge fan of the handsets – Google all but admitted that the purchase was about Motorola’s robust patent portfolio, which Google was determined to use in its tech wars against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). (Here is an example of one such battle.) After more than a year and several court battles, however, the return on investment is a bit cloudy.
At the very least, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is just off to a slow start, one might think. But there has been a wave of losses and appeals since Google took over Motorola Mobility, and Google has not been able to gain much patent ground at all against stalwart tech powers like Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). And in the wake of the recent release of the Xbox One gaming and home-entertainment console by Microsoft, Google is facing a uphill battle in its attempt to derail the Xbox One predecessor in the United States marketplace.
Florian Mueller, who writes the authoritative FOSS Patents blog which covers many of these tech patent trials and lawsuits and provides solid analysis of the issues in the cases, apparently got his hands on an appeal by Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) on behalf of Motorola Mobility, which had claimed patent infringement by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) with its Xbox 360 gaming console. Motorola Mobility had initially sought a U.S. import ban on the gaming console s far back as 2010 when it filed the infringement claim with the U.S. International Trade Commission.
After an administrative law judge found in favor of Motorola Mobility initially, the full six-member Commission reviewed the case and essentially threw it out (not in so many words, but in effect).
Motorola had initially claimed five patents were infringed – four of them considered standards-essential patents and one a non-SEP. Shortly after that, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) bought Motorola Mobility and pursued the case further, ultimately dropping the claims on the four SEPs and instead went to the commission over the non-SEP against Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT).
Except, the judge this time sided with Microsoft, saying the patent was not infringed by the Xbox. The commission this time upheld the ruling, and now Google is taking the case to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Mueller gave his opinion on this case, and what did he think?