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Google Sharpens its Teeth… And May Take a Bite Out of Apple

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice and European regulators approved Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) $12.5 billion buyout of Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI).

The timing couldn’t be better, either, considering that the DoJ also approved the purchase of Nortel Network’s patent trove, which hands 6,000 patents to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM), Sony (NYSE: SNE) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT).

And the 17,000 patents from Motorola should help Google protect its Android manufacturing partners from Apple’s ongoing litigation frenzy. Like its most recent attempt to ban the sale of the Samsung (SEO: 005930) Galaxy Nexus in the United States.

In fact, if Google’s move last week is any proof, the search giant might use the new intellectual property to play a little offense, too.

Google’s Preemptive Strike

Even before getting the official word from the DoJ, Google sent a letter to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in an effort to get a 2.25% cut from phone sales – including the iPhone – that use Motorola’s 3G patents. Something that Motorola was trying to get earlier this month.

Of course, that’s not something Apple’s exactly thrilled about. Considering that the iPhone handed Apple $24.4 billion in the last quarter alone. If this agreement had been in place, the company would have handed Google $549 million of that.

However, it might be a tough sell. Especially since the DoJ believes that “the specific transactions at issue are not likely to significantly change existing market dynamic.”

In other words, since some intellectual property from both Motorola and Nortel are used widely across the industry, it’s convinced that the patents shouldn’t trigger more litigious action.

But I’d be surprised if all the players involved actually fight fair as regulators hope.

With that said, even if Google doesn’t stay on the offensive with Motorola’s patents, keep in mind that the buyout isn’t all about intellectual property…

Your Connected Home on the Way

As I said in August, taking advantage of Motorola’s hardware business – and not just its patents – would be in Google’s best interests, too. Because Google could then develop products that are more directly in line with the Android operating system.

But it’s not just better Android phones that I’m looking forward to.

Remember, Motorola Mobility also manufacturers products like modems, routers, streaming video players, DVR set-top boxes, remote controls and Blu-ray headsets.

Meaning its hardware offerings would also be the perfect fit for Android@Home – the platform Google announced in May that turns your home’s electronics into a fully connected wireless network. So you can control anything from your lights to your air conditioner with a smartphone or tablet.

This could be a big step for Google in maintaining an edge over competitors. Like the Times says:

“As the internet matures, the leading companies are trying to create full-fledged ecosystems to preserve their individual dominance.”

Now, Google hasn’t made any big announcements about Android@Home since it first unveiled the technology last year. But its recent application to the FCC asking permission to test a music-streaming device in four U.S. cities has some – including me – wondering if it’s the first step toward getting this new service off the ground.

Let us know in the comments how you’d like to see Android@Home implemented. Personally, I’m just looking forward to using my phone to make my Roomba chase the dog and cat around the house.

Good investing,

Justin Fritz

Justin Fritz

, Executive Editor

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