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Google on a mission to stock up its patents war chest

Google is rumoured to be bidding for device manufacturer Modu's patent portfolio

Google looks to be filling its patents war chest further, if rumours of a bid for bankrupt Israeli device manufacturer Modu are accurate. With the Android platform under increasing threat from patent challenges, Google is reported to have offered $2m for the patent portfolio of the company, which was founded by USB-Flash drive inventor Dov Moran and which made what it claimed to be the world’s lightest modular mobile phone.

Google’s bid is reported to be higher than one made by peripherals manufacturer Kensington Technology in March; there are over 100 patents in the portfolio.

This latest patent acquisition bid comes less than a month after Google put in a $900m offer for Nortel Networks’ patent holdings in a “stalking horse” arrangement that could yet see another bidder come in with a higher offer. In that instance, the patents in question are understood to include both granted and pending applications covering wireless, 4G/LTE, data networking, optical, voice, social networking and internet, among others.

As Google’s strategy sees it moving into the mobile and desktop operating systems space, it’s increasingly attracting patent-related legal challenges, including one from Oracle. At the time that the Nortel offer was announced, Google General Counsel Kent Walker said that the company hoped that, if successful, the bid would “create a disincentive for others to sue Google,” adding that “As things stand today, one of a company’s best defences against this kind of litigation is to (ironically) have a formidable patent portfolio.” Last year, Oracle filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming that the Android operating system infringes on patents it acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems.


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