The costs of the broken US patent system are often abstract, but this month Google put a price tag on it: $12.5 billion. That’s what Google paid for Motorola’s US smartphone business and its 17,000 patents. This is $12.5 billion one of America’s most creative companies will not use to innovate, fund research or hire anyone beside patent lawyers.
It’s not as if Motorola has some must-have patents for mobile phones. Instead, Google wants an arsenal of patents to fight the similar arsenal collected by competitors of its Android operating system for smartphones. These competitors include Apple and Microsoft, which recently teamed up to buy 6,000 wireless patents for $4.5 billion from Nortel
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L Gordon Crovitz is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal.
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