Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been nothing if not aggressive about its patent portfolio and its gathering of as much data as possible about people who browse the Internet. CEO Larry Page and chairman of the board Eric Schmidt have been prominent in regards to many tech stories, especially those involving censorship, patent lawsuits or personal information being used and shared. Google is on the frontlines, and not often in a positive way.
Google Inc (GOOG) Gets No Kiss from the French
Andrew Beaujon of Poynter wrote this week that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is facing a new lawsuit in France, which demands that Google remove from its search results any references to a “Nazi-themed sex party,” something associated to a former Formula One president who won an earlier judgment in 2008 with the now-defunct News of the World newspaper.
Google is fighting the request, saying this amounts to a form of censorship – of which Google has repeatedly been on the side of a free exchange of ideas and expression over the Ineternet. The request is a general reference to the 2008 sex party, which was ruled to not be “Nazi-themed” and that fallacy reported by News of the World resulted in the newspaper paying more than $115,000 in damages. Daphne Keller, a general counsel for Google Europe, wrote, “A set of words or images may break the law in one context, but be lawful in another. As an example, a filter might end up censoring news reports about Mr. Mosley’s own court case.”
Does Google = Patent Troll?
On a more domestic front, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) went to great lengths and expense to buy Motorola Mobility nearly two years ago, mainly for what was believed a robust patent portfolio meant to protect the company in various intellectual-property encounters with other tech companies.
One of the most noteworthy IP battles has been Motorola Mobility taking on Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) over the licensing of some Motorola Mobility technology for use with Microsoft devices. However, Motorola has suffered a couple of significant defeats, the most recent reported by Preston Gralla of Computerworld. Wednesday, Google got a rebuke by a jury, who ruled that Motorola Mobility was not reasonable in its licensing terms for a couple of standard-essential patents regarding video compression and wireless network tech, and the jury awarded Microsoft $15 million in damages.
This piles up the losing streak of Motorola Mobility in various patent battles, which may very well raise the question as to whether the patent portfolio of Motorola Mobility is so weak that Google has been reduced to being a patent troll. This is the second Microsoft win over Motorola Mobility over the same SEPs, and the ITC ruled earlier that Xbox 360 did not violate Motorola Mobility patents. David Howard, deputy counsel for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), said of the most recent decision against Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), “The jury’s verdict is the latest in a growing list of decisions by regulators and courts telling Google to stop abusing patents.”
And John Paczkowski of AllThingsD wrote, “Not only does the verdict call into question the … $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, it has made it possible for a rival like Microsoft to publicly lambaste (Google) as a patent troll. Accurately.”
Ouch. If you were an investor like fund managers Philippe Laffont or Stephen Mandel, what would be your thoughts about Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and its $12 billion buy of Motorola Mobility? Has it been worth the investment, and how does that move affect your perception of the company? As you consider giving feedback in the comments section below, take a look at this video review about the new Moto X handset by Motrola Mobility.