IBM Assigns 217 More Patent Filings to Google including Wireless Phones and Javascript Widgets

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Looks like Google and IBM are working together again to build up Google’s patent portfolio, from an update at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent assignment database. Details beyond the actual patents involved aren’t known yet. The last couple of times I wrote about large patent transactions between Google and IBM this past July and September, Google ended up sending out emails a few hours after my posts to a number of large media sites such as the New York Times, Bloomberg News, the Wall Street Journal, and a number of others disclosing the acquisitions. We’ll see if they do that again.

The last week of 2011, Google acquired 188 granted patents and 29 published pending patent applications from IBM, according to the USPTO assignment database, with an execution data on the assignment of the patents on December 28, 2011, in a deal that was officially recorded at the patent office on December 30, 2011.

The patents cover a broad range of topics, such as presentation software, blade servers, data caching, server load balancing, network performance, video conferencing, email administration, and instant messaging applications. A number of the patents cover specific internet, phone, and mobile phone technologies as well.

I pulled out a few patents that appear to involve web and telephone and mobile applications from their titles, including a java script browser widget patent, but there may be more patent filings on those topics that don’t have very descriptive titles.

Google has been assigned a large number of patents from IBM in the past through a number of different transactions, many of which I wrote about here, such as:

The USPTO database doesn’t include the terms of the acquisition such as the financial details, and neither Google nor IBM have disclosed those types of details publicly for their previous patent transactions.

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59 thoughts on “IBM Assigns 217 More Patent Filings to Google including Wireless Phones and Javascript Widgets”

  1. Interesting. I am sure this blog is visited regularly by them Bill.

    Just curious. How in the world did you find out about the emails?

    Its OK if you don’t disclose. I understand.

    Mark :)

  2. And the patent wars heat up! Google’s playing catch up as all sides build up their armies of patents ready for war!

  3. Hi Brett,

    Google does seem pretty interested in letting its portfolio catch up to some of its biggest competitors. They’ve published some announcements on their blogs that one of the reasons for their acquisitions of patents was to help deter patent infringement cases being filed against them, especially by patent trolls.

    I expect them to continue to acquire as many as they can.

  4. Hi Mark,

    Thanks. I had a number of reporters contact me to try to find out more about how I learned about the patent acquisitions, and to ask some questions. A few of them also noted in their articles that Google had contacted them to confirm their purchase as well.

  5. Hi Bill,
    Do we have any idea how many patents google own so far? Looks like a pretty big number.

  6. Google is doing crazy job to acquire new patents and I can understand it. They haven’t created anything that it patent worth so to keep competitive in patent wars they have to do something about it otherwise they will be spending millions of not billions for other companies that holds patents.
    And as we all know Google like to copy and improve existing things, so working without the patents is like sitting on a powder keg.

  7. Pingback: » Google buys 217 more patents from IBM to bolster IP portfolio
  8. Pingback: Google Acquires 217 Patents from IBM | Gadget News and Reviews -
  9. Pingback: Google buys 200+ more patents from IBM
  10. When will Google develop their own patents, instead of tracking everyone on the web?

  11. Wao. This is awesome. Today only I landed up here at this blog. Read 10+ posts in a single shot. LOADS of information regarding SEO, Google, IBM … Oh my god. Bill you are great ! Coming back to this blog post. It’s strange to me that Google is buying patents from IBM. I didn’t know that IBM is such a great company in internet world as well. I’ll keep myself updated using this blog. Thanks team for your efforts and sharing this HUGE, SEA-LEVEL knowledge with us!

  12. Interesting article. I wonder what direction Google will go and where they will be in a few years from now, until reading a different article this morning i was thinking they would take over the world, but just read that Siri (Apple’s product) is going to be the beginning of the end of Google. The thought is that you won’t even be going to a computer to search anything, you will be simply asking your phone or TV questions as you are walking around your home, office, etc.

  13. That is so true, Bill. Google and IBM sure is racking up the patents in a frenzy. I think Google will continue rounding up patents as it tries to capture almost every tech perspective. And it sure doesn’t come as a surprise for us all that these involve mobile and internet technologies. Google seriously is going strong with their Android plans.

  14. Pingback: Google buys more patents « sanders
  15. @ Mikhail : I’m not sure whether Google is going to be a leader in Mobile or not but 1 thing is sure that Google guys are trying to be at the helm. For that, they are trying their best. The standard of technologies has been changed drastically in last 7-8 years and with these kinda tie-ups and collaborations we’ll have some rocking products by companies like IBM , Google , Mac etc. Thanks Bill for sharing this patent deal with us. I didn’t know it.

  16. Pingback: Google-IBM Patent Deal: Business As Usual? « Gametime IP
  17. It’s a further effort by IBM and Google to keep up with the Joneses. The more patents you carry, the more of a player you can be in this market. I have the Droid by Motorola with its Google partnership. Great product but it’s still not up to par with Apple. Hopefully Google’s efforts to become a bigger player will pay off. IB< is a good way to do it.

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  20. Hi Sylvain,

    The USPTO assignment database lists 5137 assignments of patents and pending patent applications from Google, but that number doesn’t count:

    Patents owned by Google that haven’t been assigned to them yet
    Patents and patent applications that are still unpublished by the patent office
    Patents that might be owned by Google that were assigned to them under different names, like those assigned to “Exaflop” (and there could possibly be others.
    Patents filed outside of the United States in other countries that might not have been filed in the United States at this point

    If the Motorola Mobility acquisition goes through, Google could potentially add another 17,000 + patents and pending and unpublished patent filings as well.

  21. Hi Mike,

    Google has developed and filed a good number of their own patents, and while many of those cover search related topics, they also have many involving other topics as well. But they have been increasingly involved in fields outside of search, from self driving cars, to mobile phone operating systems, tablet operating systems, and more.

    Many of their competitors in those fields have been developing their own technologies and patenting them, and acquiring others for years, and some have a significant head start on on Google, like Apple and Microsoft.

    Google’s Eric Schmidt said a few years ago when he was still CEO of Google that they won’t enter a field where they can’t innovate. I think that is often the case, and while some aspects of things that they develop might overlap with existing technologies in some ways, they do often seem to take unique approaches with what they are developing. Those areas of “overlap” do present the possibility of patent infringement litigation, and acquiring patents from others is one way to try to help protect them from that kind of litigation.

  22. Hi Peter

    I think it’s actually a good sign that we are seeing so many patents. It means that people are attempting to build new things, to create and innovate, to protect the things that they are building. What isn’t good is when bad patents are granted that really don’t cover things that are new, useful, and non-obvious. What’s even worse is when companies snap up patents solely for the purpose of collecting money from companies that might be using similar technology, and the patents turn from spurring innovation to stifling it.

  23. Hi The1nChicago,

    Google has been developing their own patents for years and years. If I had to make a rough guess at how many, it’s probably close to a couple of thousand.

  24. Hi Santosh

    Thank you for your very kind words.

    IBM has been one of the most prolific filers of patents in the world the past few years, and the technology that they’ve patented covers an incredibly broad range of computer technology including both software and hardware and databases. They’ve also patented a large number of technology related business processes as well.

    Google has built much of the technology behind its data centers, search engine software, and networking systems, and it looks like some of the IBM patents may cover some of those types of things. Google has been working with very large databases, and again the IBM patents that Google has acquired cover those types of topics as well. Google has been working on computer operating systems for mobile and handheld devices, television set top boxes, servers, and data centers, and again it’s likely that some of the IBM patents touch on those areas as well.

  25. Hi Amber,

    I don’t think that Siri will be the end of Google. It’s a voice recognition application that seems to work well, and was marketed well, but Apple hasn’t developed the kind of search technology that Google has, and Google has been working on its own voice recognition interface for a few years.

  26. Hi Daniel,

    It makes sense for Google to keep on acquiring technology patents for a wide range of technologies, to both protect them from potential patent infringement lawsuits and to use the technology in those patents when and where it make sense to do so. Apple may have had a headstart on Google when it comes to smart phones, but I think we all benefit from the competition between the two.

  27. Hi Mikhail,

    I think Google has a good chance of being a leader in mobile. I think they have no choice given the incredibly rapid rate of adoption of smart phones by people.

  28. Hi Hitesh,

    You’re welcome.

    Google does seem to striving to be a leader in mobile. I was surprised myself when I checked the assignment database and saw this assignment of patents. I did a few searches on the Web to see if anyone else had run across the assignment, and didn’t see anything.

  29. Hi Kentaro,

    Google has been working on Near Field Communication for a while, and Google’s acquisition of Zetawire brought them a patent application that describes a very detailed set of processes in using and administrating NFC payment, advertising, and identity management systems. It’s really worth reading if you want to have an idea of how complete a system they’ve envisioned, including security issues, coupons, electronic wallet display, business card and receipt handling, and more.

  30. Hi Felipe,

    I’m not sure that Google is trying to keep up with the Jones. I think they are trying to be leaders as much as they can, and on a good number of levels they are succeeding. As Google’s Andy Rubin noted back on December 20th on Google Plus:

    There are now over 700,000 Android devices activated every day

    That seems pretty significant.

  31. Interesting article. Google is working hard in order for the site to reach the long-time dream of becoming number 1 in every aspect – be it SMM or apps for industries.

  32. “I’m not sure that Google is trying to keep up with the Jones”

    …..Yeah I agree Bill, if anything they’re trying to differentiate themselves from the Jones’ and attempting to be “the Jones'” themselves so to speak!

  33. Hi Sean,

    Chasing after others and trying to keep up with what they are doing instead of trying to be the one others are keeping up with just doesn’t seem to be a good strategy. :)

  34. Holy cow. Over 5200 patents? You think they’re just buying up indirect competition or competitive expansion techniques? Might be interesting to be on the research team when they’re trying to figure out what to do and don’t… #7949935 seems interesting but Im’ not sure how its patented…

  35. I think it’s always very interesting to dig into the patent efforts of large companies like Google or Apple; it’s usually a great indication of the direction the company is hoping to take. Google is obviously still a giant, but they’re definitely making a huge effort to stay relevant in the ever changing landscape of the internet. I do hope that google+ gains enough momentum to become a valid competitor in the social media space.

  36. Hi Thomas,

    Google’s patent portfolio has grown tremendously in the past couple of years.

    I suspect that when it comes to some of the acquisitions like the ones from IBM, Google might have been limited in its ability to pick and choose and had to buy bundles of patents to get some of the ones that they might have most wanted.

    Selecting And Rendering A Section Of A Web Page (US Patent # 7949935) is pretty interesting as something that might best match up an advertisement with a specific section of a page. Google’s context based ads tend to be on a page based level, so if placing an advertisement near that text that best matches up to it might mean more clicks on that ad, it’s definitely something that Google should consider looking into.

  37. Hi Alex,

    In the cases of companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Apple, looking at patents provides a path to information about things they tend to be interested in that I’m not sure you could really uncover in any other way.

    Google Plus does have the potential to be a contender in the social media arena, but Google’s integration of the service into its search results through both social search results and authorship markups/badges makes it more than just a social network site. That might be a positive that may help Google considerably.

  38. Bill, I strongly agree with you when you say that Google is doing everything they can to be innovative leaders. I think it’s pretty amazing how far-stretched their innovation really is. Even though they weren’t the first to come up with the new technology such as augmented reality glasses, but I think that’s a good example of their innovation: basically do as much cool stuff as possible. Oh, and not be evil while doing it.

  39. Interesting article. I wonder what direction Google will go and where they will be in a few years from now, until reading a different article this morning i was thinking they would take over the world, but just read that Siri (Apple’s product) is going to be the beginning of the end of Google. The thought is that you won’t even be going to a computer to search anything, you will be simply asking your phone or TV questions as you are walking around your home, office, etc.

  40. Sadly this is the state of that industry. If you want to be competitive at all in mobile devices you have to have a truck load of patents behind you just to get a seat at the table. I recently made a chart of who was suing who in the mobile device business and there were so many lines connecting one company to the other it became near impossible to visually show all of the lawsuits going on. Although I am an big supporter of patents and intellectual property rights, at some point you have to feel bad for the little guys. How could a small company with a mobile device technology every be able to compete in this space without selling out to one of the bigger boys first?

  41. Hi Kate,

    It really doesn’t make too much sense for Google to try to compete in areas where they can’t be innovative, and they do seem to be doing a good job in that area.

    Creativity is often an exercise in taking something already existing, and transforming it in ways that are unexpected somehow. There are things like Heads Up Displays (HUDs) that the military and the police and some industrial workers wear that provide some information through information presented in those displays, but the difference between the glasses Google showed in their video and those is like night and day. Fingers crossed on the “not be evil.”

  42. Hi Dan,

    There were a few people predicting that Siri would be the end of computers and search and Google. I’m not buying that. Siri still needs some kind of search engine and databse to power it. People will likely still perform searches via a display monitor that can show those search ads that Google makes their money with. Google may also start exploring some alternative business models by the time they might have to worry about something like Siri.

  43. Hi Brad,

    Thank you.

    It does seem like having patents to back you is a necessity. The chart you made sounds a little scary, but I’m envisioning it.

    I have seen some smaller companies focusing upon things like mobile search who aren’t household names, and seem to be doing a good job of flying under the radar and filing a lot of patents. But I agree with you that the cost of entry is becoming higher and higher. But I’ve also seen Google acquire a couple of patent portfolios from some small mobile technology companies that didn’t quite make it for one reason or another.

  44. It is such a crazy system… Companies buy up huge swaths of patents (that may or may not be relevant) simply to combat lawsuits from other companies. Basically allowing them to commit all sorts of patent infringements, because they will have the firepower to bring their own lawsuits against other companies in retaliation of anyone coming against them.

    The corporate legal system definitely needs an overhaul.

  45. Hi Nate,

    I don’t know how many of the patent filings that Google purchased are relevant or not, but most of them do seem to cover things that Google is involved with. The many computer and network architecture and hardware patents do reflect that Google is one of the largest manufacturers of servers in the US, even though they may be using most of those for their own purposes.

    We also really haven’t been seeing Google going out of their way to try to sue others for patent infringement based upon the patents that they’ve been acquiring.

  46. Google isn’t suing people, they need the patents to protect themselves from other companies suing them. Google has copied a lot of things and moved into a lot of other corporation’s territories – so they need these patents (and more) to protect themselves.

  47. Hi Nate,

    I think it’s possible that if Google truly thought that someone was infringing one of their patents that they would consider filing an infringement suit.

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