I've argued in the past that stories about Google's supposed patent strategy--bid up the Nortel patents so that Apple/Microsoft would overpay and then swoop in to get Motorola's patents instead--were completely fictional. But if this latest development is true, Google's mobile patents acquisition were even more one-sided than previously thought. And Google didn't come out on top.
According to David Martin, the founder and chairman of patent consulting firm M-Cam, Google got only "crap patents" when it announced its intention to purchase Motorola Mobility last month. And why is that? Because Motorola had already sold off its best patents, along with its other most valuable assets, long before splitting into two companies, Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions.
"It's an immense mistake," Martin says in an interview on Bloomberg, referring to Google's blockbuster $12.5 billion patent acquisition of Motorola Mobility. "What they've bought is crap. Motorola [had already] sold off its good assets. Back in the early years, Motorola sold off some MPEG patents to GE ... After that, they took a bunch of the Freescale patents and sold those off. [Motorola's current patent estate, which Google is trying to buy,] actually has a huge dependency on Freescale, and Freescale actually has an Apple link."
"So you have this very interesting strategy where Google thought through the present," Martin continues, "but didn't actually do its homework on the patents."
When asked if Google was in fact acquiring a patent liability and thus was more likely to be sued by other patent holders, Martin replies, "No question. The target [Google has] painted on themselves is immense. It is so easy to find. Going back to 1997, which predates Google's first patent issue, which was in 1999, Arthur Andersen actually filed a bunch of patents on Google technology. Google started filing in 1999. And out of the 700+ patents [Google] has filed under its own name, an enormous amount of that [patent] estate is actually challenged by the likes of these improbable players, many of which aren't even around anymore" [including Arthur Andersen, which was linked to the Enron fiasco].
So there you go. I figured this was a lousy deal to begin with. Now it looks even dumber.
Thanks to Matt Rosoff of Business Insider for tipping me off to this story.