Google Buys 1,023 IBM Patents to Bolster Defense of Android

Google Inc. (GOOG) bought 1,023 patents from International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) as the Internet search and advertising company bolsters its strategy of defending against smartphone lawsuits.

Transfers recorded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website yesterday show Google acquired the patents Aug. 17. Jim Prosser, a spokesman for the Mountain View, California- based company, confirmed the transaction today without providing details or financial terms. Chris Andrews, a spokesman for Armonk, New York-based IBM, declined to comment.

Google is building an arsenal of patents that the company has said is largely designed to counter a “hostile, organized campaign” by companies including Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. against the Android operating system for mobile devices. Google had already acquired 1,030 patents from IBM in a transaction recorded in July, and will obtain more than 17,000 with its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.

Android is a free, open-source program that relies on some nonproprietary features Google didn’t create and allows outside developers to modify the code. That has left the company and handset makers that use the system vulnerable to lawsuits claiming Android was built on the backs of research done by other technology companies.

Android handset makers HTC Corp. (2498), Samsung Electronics Co. and Motorola Mobility have each been targeted in lawsuits by Cupertino, California-based Apple, and Microsoft and Motorola Mobility have exchanged patent-infringement allegations.

To help in the fight, Google last month transfered to HTC nine patents it bought in the past year from companies including the former Motorola Inc. and Openwave Systems Inc. Taoyuan, Taiwan-based HTC used those patents last week in a new lawsuit that escalates its patent battle with Apple.

The IBM sale was previously reported by the SEO by the Sea blog.

To contact the reporters on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net; Brian Womack in San Francisco at Bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net; Allan Holmes at aholmes25@bloomberg.net

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