The validity of Android has been questioned in numerous patent cases, with Apple blocking sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab in Australia, Microsoft collecting licensing payments from at least five Android vendors, and Oracle suing Google over use of Java.
Still another example led Google chief legal officer David Drummond to accuse rivals of teaming up against Android. Drummond called out Microsoft and Apple for teaming up to purchase Nortel patents for $4.5 billion, beating out a $900 million bid from Google.
In a post on Google's official blog titled "When patents attack Android," Drummond bemoans that Google's rivals bought Nortel patents "to make sure Google didn't get them," while "seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Mobile; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it."
Drummond promised that Google is "looking at other ways to reduce the anti-competitive threats against Android by strengthening our own patent portfolio," while warning that continued patent problems will force consumers to pay more for Android devices.
Rivals Microsoft, Oracle, and Apple argue that Google and Android vendors have stolen their intellectual property. Apple, for example, has argued that Android phones and tablets mimic the appearance of the iPhone and iPad.
Apple's acting CEO Tim Cook said in a recent earnings call that "we love competition. We think it's great for us and for everyone. But we want people to invent their own stuff and we're going to make sure that we defend our portfolio perfectly," according to a transcript on SeekingAlpha.com.