Now that Google has messed up the Nortel patent bid, and lost more than 6,000 patents to competitors, the company is looking at alternatives to counter the growing threat of patent litigation, chiefly from Apple and Microsoft.According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is in talks with a patent licensing company called InterDigital about a possible acquisition of its patent portfolio, some 8,800 patents mostly covering wireless communications.
Getting its hands on this kind of arsenal would be a welcomed boost for Google, which sorely needs just such a boost at the moment, but it would not come cheap.
Apple, Microsoft and their cohort ended up paying $4.5 billion for the Nortel patents, after Google dropped out of the race. InterDigital not only has more patents, but it is also not in the situation Nortel was.
The Canadian corporation was bankrupt and the patent bid was part of process or recouping some of the losses for creditors. InterDigital is a working company which already licenses its patents to many other companies.
What's more, now that Google lost the Nortel bid, it's in a worse condition than it was previously and should be even more desperate to bulk up on some patents.
InterDigital could certainly use all of these factors to its advantage and its patent trove could end up being worth several billion dollars. Even if Google can afford it, it would be the biggest transaction in the company's history.
Google has paid several billion dollars for very few acquisitions, YouTube, DoubleClick, and they were all turned into big parts of the company.
But Android is very much the second biggest business Google has at the moment, even as it doesn't get any money directly from it. If it wants to protect Android's future, Google is going to have to do something and, unfortunately, this something probably means paying a huge sum of money for patents.