Motorola Mobility is being sued over six patents used in Android by a company that Google themselves provided funding to. The company, Intellectual Ventures, is a collector of patents and intellectual property, and was founded by Microsoft's former chief technology officer, Nathan Myhrvold. The company gains profit from ownership of these patents and intellectual properties by licensing them to different companies.
The six patents relate to transferring files between computers, networking capabilities, and portable computing. The company claims to have been in talks with Motorola since January 2011, which was shortly after Motorola Mobility became its own company (on January 4th, 2011). After the talks "broke down", a lawsuit was issued to the Illinois-based company. According to Intellectual Ventures, they have previously signed successful licensing agreements with other handset manufacturers.
In May, Intellectual Ventures released a legal disclosure naming Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft as companies that have helped provide it with funds. During the summer, Google made preparations to buy Motorola Mobility. If they did this, they would be able to merge Motorola Mobility with their Android operating system, evolving the search engine giant into a cell phone manufacturer. When contacted by ZDNet, Google did not respond in time for publication, and Motorola Mobility declined to comment.
BBC News questioned Google's ability to protect Android phone manufacturers, citing patent experts who said the case was "concerning", as well as reporting that Intellectual Ventures owns a pool of approximately 35,000 patents. Patent expert Florian Mueller was also cited by the BBC, saying that Google's backing of Intellectual Ventures was an "own goal", and that their failure to defend Android partners was "inexcusable".