“Like many tech companies, at times we’ll acquire patents that are relevant to our business,” a Google spokesman said in a statement. Google in mid-July recorded the acquisition of more than 1,000 patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The patents involve the “fabrication and architecture of memory and microprocessing chips,” computer architecture including servers and routers and online search engines, among other things. SEO stands for search engine optimization, or the practice of structuring websites and content so they rank well on search engines like Google.
The Google spokesman declined to comment on the purchase price. It wasn’t immediately clear which of the patents might be useful to Google to shield against lawsuits.
Google faces patent lawsuits for many of its services, including its Android mobile-device operating system, which has become a bigger target as its world-wide popularity has risen. It is unclear whether any current lawsuits pose a threat to future revenue generated by Google’s new technologies.
Google’s general counsel, Kent Walker, recently argued that patent-infringement litigation was stifling innovation and being used by companies that want to “block competing products or profit from the success of a rival’s new technology.” He said Google’s only recourse was to try to purchase a large number of patents for itself, as it was a younger company with a thinner patent load than many of its competitors.
Google has nearly $40 billion in cash, giving it the flexibility to make purchases. But it was outbid earlier this month when a coalition of companies that compete with Android, including Apple Inc., and Microsoft Corp., agreed to buy a portfolio of some 6,000 patents owned by Nortel Networks Corp. for $4.5 billion. That price was five times the $900 million Google had initially offered in an early bid for the patents.
Google, of Mountain View, Calif., has been in talks to buy InterDigial Inc., a company that owns thousands of patents and licenses them but doesn’t create products, people familiar with the matter have said. Such an acquisition would cost several billion dollars.