Google recently boosted its patent war chest with a purchase of 1,029 IBM patents. The sale was first reported by blog SEO by the Sea. It was subsequently confirmed by Google on Friday.
Google did not disclose how much it paid for the patents or whether or not it was in response to the mountain of lawsuits the Android is facing.
However, judging by the sheer amount of legal activity surrounding the Android, Google's IBM patent purchases are in all likelihood at least influenced by them.
The company's attitude towards hoarding patents is at best reluctant and at worst disgusted.
"The tech world has recently seen an explosion in patent litigation, often involving low-quality software patents, which threatens to stifle innovation. Some...are motivated by a desire to block competing products or profit from the success of a rival's new technology," wrote Kent Walker, Google's general counsel, in a blog post.
However, due to the current realities of the U.S. and international legal system on patents, Google has no choice but to play the patent game, said Walker.
A few weeks ago, it entered into a multi-billion dollar bid for the 6,000 patents of the bankrupt Nortel Networks. During the bidding process, Google behaved in a highly unorthodox manner by not bidding standard round numbers.
Its bids included $1.902 billion (reference to Brun's constant), $2.614 billion (reference to Meissel-Mertens constant), and $3.141 billion (reference to pi).
"It was not clear what strategy Google was employing, whether it wanted to confuse rival bidders, intimidate them, or simply express the irreverence that is part and parcel of its corporate persona," wrote Nadia Damouni of Reuters.
Ultimately, the Nortel patents were won for $4.5 billion by a consortium that included Apple, Microsoft, and RIM, which are all direct competitors of Google's Android OS.
Meanwhile, Apple is embroiled in nasty lawsuits with Android manufacturers HTC and Samsung and Microsoft is approaching various Android manufacturers for patent licensing fees.
"Google is a relatively young company, and although we have a growing number of patents, many of our competitors have larger portfolios given their longer histories," said Walker.
So continues its quest to build up its patent war chest to defend against older competitors.