When Google first announced their purchase of Motorola Mobility, the web and the legal community alike were abuzz with talk about how Google’s intent was to lessen the likelihood of lawsuits against them. Most believe that the acquisition was primarily so that Google could gain the numerous patents held by Motorola, helping to stave off the constant onslaught of patent infringement lawsuits Google seems inundated with already. By adding the Motorola patent portfolio, which includes 17,000 active patents and 7,500 pending patents, Google is helping to protect their Android line.
But many believe that even though this move may help protect Google against patent lawsuits with their Android phones, the move will actually prove to make Google an even bigger target for lawsuits than it already was. It is certainly worth noting that the move is very unlikely to help in Google’s ongoing antitrust investigation from the FTC, but that may be just the beginning of the company’s new legal woes. While the FTC is looking to determine if Google is keeping Android manufacturing partners from using services from rival operating systems, such as Apple and Microsoft, the new concern is that Google will favor Motorola in terms of Android development.
Google was quick to make a statement when the Motorola Mobility acquisition occurred that they would continue to be committed to all of the smartphone partners working on devices using the Android platform. The question, however, is whether the company will end up making good on their promise that Motorola will receive no special treatment. While Google is still promising manufacturers a level playing field and full Google support, the question is whether they will make good on this or whether they are looking to find a way to go back on these promises and give control to Motorola.
The longstanding concern that the Android OS forces owners of these devices to use Google services is one that the FTC was already looking into heavily, and now with the likelihood that Google will own both the hardware and the software, these investigations are likely to get much more intense. This could spell a number of lawsuits for Google down the line, ranging from antitrust suits to deceptive business practices, anticompetitive practices, and more. Everyone from handset manufacturers to app developers and even consumers may find ground to gain a share of the Google pie depending on how the company chooses to make use of their newly acquired company.