Google looks to protect Android with Motorola patents

Google is paying a premium for Motorola Mobility, the from Motorola proper. But for the $12.5 billion it's paying, Google likely is more interested in Motorola's patents than its phones.

Google's core is its search engine, and the ads that are served up every time someone looks up "Nascar news," "Kim Kardashian" or "Firefox 6." It midwifed the mobile operating system to capitalize on the fast-expanding universe of mobile users making use of online search, which fuels the ads that sustain Google. But Android, which Google licenses for free, is under patent assault from , and even Oracle.


Motorola was a pioneer of the mobile phone, and it's built up a huge portfolio of patents. According to the , at the start of 2011, Motorola had about 24,500 patents and patent worldwide. Those patents relate to both of the company's two divisions, Mobile Devices, with about 14,600 issued and nearly 7,000 more pending; and Home, which deals with a range of products like set top boxes and video services such as IPTV, based on a . 

The patents related to a wide range of technologies and standards, including 2G, 3G and 4G, as well as the H.264 and MPET-4 data compression standards, 802.11, and near-field communications (NFC).

This storehouse of intellectual property is the key asset for Google, according to some observers. "Google's acquisition of Motorola is clearly designed to be an acquisition of Intellectual Property rather than an entry of Google into the phone business," , founder of Asymco, a market intelligence firm that focuses on mobile and markets.