Google Doubles Down in Patent Race With Apple


Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has nearly doubled the number of patent filings it made in 2013 as it tries to secure an arsenal of intellectual property to use in its ongoing patent-infringement war with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), reports Apple Insider. According to United States Patent and Trademark Office data cited by Apple Insider, Google acquired almost 2,000 patents last year, compared to the just over 1,000 patents it was awarded in 2012.

As noted by Apple Insider, Google’s appetite for patents has grown appreciably over the past two years. Approximately 75 percent of the Internet search giant’s total stockpile of about 4,000 patents was acquired in 2012 and 2013. However, Apple also kept the USPTO busy in 2013. The Cupertino-based company was assigned 1,953 patents last year, slightly more than Google. Apple also has a larger overall patent hoard than Google, with a total of 7,723, reports Apple Insider.

Although patents are sometimes wielded as weapons by companies that use them to pursue frivolous lawsuits against their rivals, Google says it is acquiring its patents for defensive purposes only. “Our hope is to avoid a war,” Google’s chief patent lawyer, Allen Lo, recently told the Financial Times. “Hopefully we can learn from the smartphone litigation.”

Apple and Google have engaged in multiple patent-infringement battles against each other in various courts over the past several years. The tech company rivals are the creators of the two most popular mobile operating systems. Apple uses the iOS platform for its mobile devices, while the majority of other smartphone vendors use Google’s Android operating system.

Soon after Apple filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Android smartphone maker Samsung (SSNLF.PK) in 2011, Google intensified its efforts to build a patent stockpile. Google purchased Motorola for $12.5 billion in 2012 in order to acquire the company’s approximately 17,000 patents and 7,000 patent applications. However, Google has had little success with litigation based on Motorola’s patents and recently lost a patent-infringement case against Apple at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Apple has secured its own patent arsenal through a consortium called Rockstar that it created with several other tech companies. Apple-backed Rockstar is an intellectual property licensing company that holds about 4,000 patents that were acquired from telecom giant Nortel for $4.5 billion in 2012. As previously reported by Bloomberg, Rockstar filed patent-infringement lawsuits against several different Android smartphone makers in October of 2013.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet: