In wake of Nortel patent auction loss, Google general counsel calls for patent reform

“During an interview on Monday, Google Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Walker opened up about the company’s loss to Apple in the Nortel patent auction, calling for patent reform in the U.S. as he characterized patents as ‘government-granted monopolies’ that block innovation,” Josh Ong reports for AppleInsider.

“Walker had indicated in April that Google was interested in a collection of 6,000 patents from bankrupt Canadian telecommunications equipment maker Nortel because ‘many of [Google’s] competitors have larger portfolios given their longer histories,'” Ong reports. “The search giant succeeded in placing the initial ‘stalking horse’ bid, but ultimately lost out to a group consisting of Apple and other competitors, including as Microsoft, Research in Motion and Sony.”

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“Shortly after the auction’s results were announced, he posted a short statement describing the outcome as ‘disappointing for anyone who believes that open innovation benefits users and promotes creativity and competition,’ but declined to comment more on the matter,” Ong reports. “In an interview with TechCrunch’s MG Siegler on Monday, Walker [said]… ‘A patent isn’t innovation. It’s the right to block someone else from innovating,’ later adding that ‘patents are government-granted monopolies.’ Though the system was originally setup to reward innovation, ‘that’s not happening here.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Translation: “We wanted those Nortel patents to protect ourselves against patent infringement lawsuits, but since we lost them to Apple and therefore can’t game the system to our satisfaction, we now want to change the game instead. Maybe greasing politicians’ palms will be easier and cheaper than buying other companies’ patent portfolios or, God forbid, actually innovating on our own.”

So, if Google really feels that patents only “block someone else from innovating,” surely whatever patents they actually do possess are now public domain, right?

Related articles:
Apple paying more than half $4.5 billion price tag on Nortel patent trove – July 22, 2011
Apple, Google gird for bidding war over InterDigital patent trove – July 20, 2011
U.S. and Canadian courts approve sale of Nortel patent trove to Apple-led ‘Rockstar’ consortium – July 11, 2011
How Apple led the high-stakes Nortel patent win against Google, sealing Ballmer’s promise – July 10, 2011
Google’s Schmidt worried and disappointed over Apple consortium’s Nortel patent win – July 8, 2011
RUMOR: Apple gets outright ownership of Nortel’s LTE (4G) patents – July 5, 2011
Google’s Android intellectual property headache looks set to become a migraine – July 5, 2011
Leaked bids show how Apple-led ‘Rockstar’ beat Google to Nortel patents – July 2, 2011
Apple consortium wins $4.5 billion Nortel patent trove auction; Google, Intel lose bidding battle – July 1, 2011
Intel gets antitrust approval to bid on Nortel patents – June 24, 2011
Apple gets U.S. antitrust approval to bid for Nortel patent trove – June 23, 2011
Apple, Intel among bidders for Nortel patent trove – June 17, 2011
Nortel delays patent auction one week citing significant interest – June 16, 2011
RIM looks to outbid Apple, Google, and Nokia for Nortel’s patent treasure trove – April 18, 2011
Google bids $900 million for 6,000 Nortel telecom patents in quest to boost patent portfolio – April 4, 2011
Apple reportedly bidding for Nortel patent portfolio – December 13, 2010


    1. Oh give me a frigging break. They’re following in the fine, capitalist US tradition of years past by ripping off stuff they don’t own.

      First the New York publishers and Broadway gladly ripped off British books and plays, safe from British prosecution, until they became big and rich enough to protect/litigate others on their own and prevent upstarts from invading their space.

      So the upstarts in the new audio and movie business, rather than pay patent and copyright royalties to the rightful owners in the late 1800s and early 1900s, moved en masse to the deserts of California, establishing–you guessed it–Hollywood. There they were isolated and safe from the laws of the east, until they too became big and rich enough to protect/litigate others on their own, and prevent upstarts from invading their space.

  1. How can a patent “block innovation”? Non sequitur. If one does not wish to pay royalties on a patent, then obviously one must innovate. There is some old and pithy adage about necessity and mothers…if I could only remember it.

  2. Imagine you were shopping in a mall and decided out of impulse to swipe a couple of shirts off the hanger rail and walk out of the store without paying. Suddenly the pillar alarms sound and you get sent to the slammer for shoplifting. Would your lawyer advocate changing the criminal justice system or ask you to change your thieving ways? I think this asshole is just ranting into thin air if you ask me. 

  3. This is why I’m glad Google lost the Nortel patent auction. With all the trolls who regularly sue Apple, there’s no question our patent system today is quite broken when it comes to technology. If Google had won, they’d have far less incentive to push for patent reform.

    I’m hopeful we can figure out a way to fix our patent system so that true innovators are rewarded, while trolls and copy artists are not. (Though, Google’s vision may differ on the “copy artists” front.) 😉

  4. patent
    noun |ˈpatnt|
    1 a government authority to an individual or organization conferring a right or title, esp. the sole right to make, use, or sell some invention

    Government granted monopolies is exactly what they are intended to be.

    I wonder if Ong realizes how much he’s twisting logic or if he really believes this. What a douchebag.

  5. RE: “…Google Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Walker … characterized patents as ‘government-granted monopolies’ that block innovation…”

    REPLY: They ARE government-granted lawful monopolies, because the government intends to reward those who spent the time, effort, and, sometimes, enormous sums to create the patented item.

    Google thinks it should just be able to just take or employ someone else’s product or service, without license, and reap the profits.

    In the internet age, this is the new definition of EVIL.

  6. WOW, and Google doesn’t like doing business in China either, which is treats patents exactly the way Google likes.

    Make up your minds won’tcha Google:)

  7. Everyone talks about Apple’s reality distortion field, lets take a dive into Google’s:
    “We were trying to buy the patents to bury them and never use them, that way everyone can use the technology. Patents block innovation because it doesn’t allow people to use other people inventions. We love innovation so much we shut down Google Labs. Everyone sucks but us because we give everything away for free. Now what’s your email again?”

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