Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Google’s Growing Patent Stockpile

Antonio Regalado, MIT Technology Review:

What’s up for debate is whether Google’s blistering rate of patenting means the company is inventing more—and more valuable—technology than it did before. Is Google 500 times as innovative as it was a decade ago just because it is winning 500 times as many patents? Or have circumstances forced the search giant into behaving like the kind of company it professes to despise: the kind that spends a great deal of time, money, and effort on legal maneuvers of dubious value to the public?

Florian Mueller, writing for the Hill in a very similar vein:

Certain Internet companies have a selective perspective on patent assertions. They preach peace to Congress but pursue war when it seems opportune.

If the fans of an English soccer side fail to support their team when it’s down, they will hear their rivals chant, “You only sing when you’re winning.” Some companies’ approach to patents is to only sue when they’re winning, but when they’re not, they turn up the volume in lobbying and public relations. They cry foul over a broken patent system, privateers, trolls, and allegedly conspiring competitors.

Either companies are just playing the game while the game is in play, while simultaneously trying to ensure meaningful patent reform, or they are being disingenuous with their public relations. Either way, I think they enjoy benefitting from patent litigation while preaching to those who support them that they dislike that very same litigation. If the question is one of whether the patents which are being sued over are legitimate, I think that’s a separate debate entirely. But Google isn’t dumb — Apple, Amazon, and Facebook aren’t dumb either.