Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) executive Eric Schmidt did not mince many words (a few, but not many) when it came to discussing the many patent lawsuits that are being contested in the mobile device industry. At a recent event in South Korea to announce the launch of the Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nexus 7 tablet in South Korea, the home base of top Android operating system partner, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
Speaking at the launch event, Schmidt discussed the patent battles that Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been involved with – via its partners like Samsung, HTC and Motorola Mobility – against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) over intellectual property.
“Literally patent wars prevent choice, prevent innovation and I think that is very bad. We are obviously working through that and trying to make sure we stay on the right side of these issues. So ultimately Google stands for innovation as opposed to patent wars,” Schmidt said. “I think one of the worst things that happened in the last few years has been the belief that somehow there are so many patents in the mobile phone world, an estimated 200,000 that are overlapping and complicated and so forth, that one vendor can stop the sale of another vendor’s phones or devices.”
Schmidt went on to say that he believes that all of these battles will limit innovation and provide fewer choices for consumers, and he believes that Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and others should be able to compete with products and designs and features in the marketplace, and let the consumers decide the amount of competition – instead of judges and juries.
And when it comes to Apple patents, Schmidt offered, “With respect to Apple patents, the best thing we can tell there are plenty of prior arts and I don’t want to go beyond that.” however, Schmidt pivoted on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), saying that the company “is actually a very good partner. Our two companies are literally talking all the time about everything.”
Whether they talk about patents, of course, may be only conjecture. But for observers of Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and investors in Google stock – like hedge-fund manager Chase Coleman of Tiger Global Management LLC – are Schmidt’s words true? Do consumers and the industry suffer from all these patent battles, or is this healthy for the tech landscape?