Google’s Schmidt: Patent Wars Harm Startups

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt (seen here at the Mobile World Congress 2012) discussed the state of competition with Apple.

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt opened up to The Wall Street Journal in a Dec. 4 interview. Among the topics covered: the status of his company’s ongoing patent war with Apple, as well as its attempts to make the Android mobile operating system more of a revenue giant.

Schmidt (who remains Google’s executive chairman) suggested that, despite the media’s attempts to paint it as such, the conflict with Apple isn’t an Armageddon-level battle to the death. “The adult way to run a business is to run it more like a country,” he said. “They have disputes, yet they’ve actually been able to have huge trade with each other.” Both Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Larry Page, he added, understand that model.

In Schmidt’s mind, startups have the most to lose in the current patent wars:

“There’s a young [Android co-founder] Andy Rubin trying to form a new version of Danger [the smartphone company Mr. Rubin co-founded before Android]. How is he or she going to be able to get the patent coverage necessary to offer version one of their product? That’s the real consequence of this.”

While one can applaud Schmidt’s attempt to keep things civilized, Google and Apple do seem intent on shredding one another into itty-bitty pieces. After years of relying on Google mapping data for iOS, Apple recently decided to use its own cartographical platform in its iOS 6 Maps app. However, the “Apple grown” maps offered users inaccurate directions and missing landmarks, forcing Tim Cook to issue an apology on the company’s Website. Apple’s decision to abandon Google’s data was widely perceived as a sign of the growing animosity between the two tech titans.

Meanwhile, Apple remains intent on hammering Android in court, with multiple lawsuits against various Android manufacturers still ongoing. While Apple and HTC announced an end to intellectual-property litigation in November, with both parties agreeing to a decade-long cross licensing agreement, Apple’s battles continue against Samsung and Motorola.

In addition, Apple’s iPad and iPhone franchises are facing off this holiday season against Google’s “flagship” Nexus line of tablets and smartphones—a battle of paramount importance to both companies’ prestige and bottom line. Mature businesses might be run like countries, but that doesn’t make the war any less intense.

 

Image: catwalker/Shutterstock.com

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