When Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) made a bid to acquire Motorola (NYSE: MMI) last month, analysts were speculating that its relationship with the existing Android smartphone manufacturers would be in jeopardy.
But it’s like I’ve said before, Google won’t shut out the companies that helped its Android OS swallow up some of Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) marketshare. And Android manufacturers aren’t going to cut ties with the fastest-growing operating system in the industry.
After all, the 17,000 patents that Google acquired from Motorola will be extremely valuable to Android partners looking to beef up their litigation armory.
In fact, HTC (TPE: 2498) is already taking advantage of Google’s expanded patent portfolio. And thanks to a recent transaction, it scored a huge leg up in its legal battle with Apple.
Let me explain…
Google’s Patent Portfolio to the Rescue
We’ve already covered a wide range of patent disputes between Apple and Android phone manufacturers. But the HTC vs. Apple battle has been particularly juicy. Especially last week, when HTC turned up the heat.
Basically, the company ramped up an existing patent infringement claim against Apple by adding nine new patents to the mix.
And believe it or not, all of the new patents included in the claim were purchased from Google’s patent trove.
Originally, each of these patents came from other sources: Google had purchased two of them from Palm, three from Openwave Systems (Nasdaq: OPWV) and – most importantly – four from Motorola.
So even though Google acquired the four Motorola patents before last month’s bid, it certainly shows that Motorola’s patent portfolio can be an important weapon in the ongoing patent warfare.
Heck, at the very least, it proves that Google isn’t leaving its Android partners out in the cold. And in cases like this one, it shows the company’s even willing to throw them a lifeline.
It’s no wonder Verizon’s (NYSE: VZ) Senior VP, John Thorne, appreciates the “stability [Google’s purchase of Motorola might bring] to the ongoing smartphone patent disputes.”
You see, Verizon controls 41% of the Android smartphone marketshare, according to a recent survey by Chitika. That includes handsets from LG (NYSE: LPL), HTC, Samsung, Sony (NYSE: SNE) and of course, Motorola.
So if there’s anyone who should care about the survival of all Android phone makers, it’s Thorne. And with 17,000 more units of mobile patent ammunition on the way, don’t expect other manufacturers to stray away from Google any time soon, either.
Bottom line: While the amount HTC paid for the patents remains unknown, the fact that Google’s willing to equip its partners with patents to ward off litigation proves that it’s not setting up its Android partners for failure.