Google is fed up with patent wars, wants the system to change

Google is fed up with patent wars, wants the system to change
Patently obvious a change is needed

Google has spoken out about the current crop of patent cases clogging up the courts, believing the present system is not helping with innovation in the technology sector.

Speaking at the annual Technology Policy Institute's conference in California, Pablo Chavez, Google's public policy director, explained that something needed to change if innovation was to continue in the tech world.

"One thing that we are very seriously taking a look at is the question of software patents, and whether in fact the patent system as it currently exists is the right system to incent innovation and really promote consumer-friendly policies," said Chavez.

He went on to explain: "We think that these patent wars are not helpful to consumers. They're not helpful to the marketplace. They're not helpful to innovation."

Patents 'encouraging information'

This view isn't one shared by all, however. TechRadar spoke to IP lawyer Ilya Kazi, from Mathys & Squire, about the situation and he is a lot more upbeat than Google with regards to the whole patent situation at the moment.

While Kazi believes that there will be cases when patent trolling happens, the majority of the time buying and creating patents is beneficial to the industry.

"The drive to build IP as a parallel process to product development is in my view encouraging innovation," said Kazi, "as it forces engineers to think about making something new and protectable not just 'tinker a bit' with an existing product.

As for the idea that big companies are buying up smaller companies purely for their patents – Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility does seem to be a case in point – Kazi isn't so sure this is as widespread as the media would like you to think.

"There is, as with any system ever devised for anything, a risk of unintended consequences but I think the notion that people are stockpiling patents just to block hypothetical innovators is largely mythical," explained Kazi.

"In reality large companies in the IT sector are actively looking to support innovation and an innovative company is more likely to be bought than squashed."

Working together

With Samsung battling it out with Apple over IP, and before this Nokia, HTC and Motorola Mobility all wrapped up in potential patent problems, it does seem difficult to see how things will change in the near future but Kazi does believe there could be a solution – teamwork.

"In the case of Apple and Samsung, I think the dust will settle eventually and they will be reluctant to spend as much on legal fees again!

"We are already seeing this somewhat in the Kodak patent auction; rather than a competitive arms race for each side to buy more weapons, the various interested parties seem to have quite sensibly teamed up to buy the portfolio collectively and defuse the threat."

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.