Earlier this evening we wrote in an acerbic tone how Google was complaining about being bullied by other companies over patents. Specifically, they pointed to the 6,000 Nortel patents that were up for bid and ended up going to a consortium of buyers, including Apple and Microsoft for $4.5 billion. Google was the only one left out of the consortium, they cried foul and now are excited about the Department of Justice getting involved.
In comments, we noted that Google should expect some people to hit back. After all, that post by Google's Chief Law Officer did not advocate patent reform, propose any new legislation or offer any solutions--it just complained that they were being targeted and that these software patents were "bogus" (this from the company that is entirely built on software patents).
Now Microsoft's General Counsel, Brad Smith, chimed in with an interesting comment on Twitter:
"Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no."
That sounds a bit different than how Google portrayed themselves in their blog post. One could suggest that Smith is not being entirely truthful here, but it seems odd that he would put himself out there with something that could easily be proved false in court.
So what's the deal Google? Are you serious about patent reform or are you seeking opportunism?
Update: Here's a copy of the email to Brad Smith of MSFT from Kent Walker, Google's General Counsel. In short, it supposedly shows Google denying an offer to participate in the consortium.