Google just threw down $12.5 billion to buy Motorola Mobility and its 17,000 patents, giving the search giant some much needed ammunition in the phone wars. Google’s top lawyer recently shamed Apple and Microsoft, saying they use patents to stifle competition. That was before Google bought the company that invented the mobile phone.

The deal still requires regulators and shareholders to sign off.

Here’s a wrinkle: Google’s mobile strategy is to provide a free operating system (Android) to many partners, including Motorola and its competitors such as Samsung and HTC. How will those companies feel now that Google isn’t just a neutral third party? According to Engadget, those companies have tweeted their support and are framing it as a broader defense of Android.

Most consumers are blissfully unaware of the ugly legal battles major technology companies have been waging. For example, Apple recently got a European court to prevent Samsung from importing and advertising a rival tablet to the iPad in most of the Continent. Microsoft has been forcing Android competitors to license its patents in order, presumably, to make its own mobile operating system appear more cost competitive. Motorola had just hinted it would start seeking licenses for its own patents before Google swept in and bought the store.

In time we will discover the true ups and downs of this acquisition and what it means for the rest of us. Until then, we can be sure that this is a major development that will, along with other twists and turns in the mobile industry, help shape the way most of us communicate. — PZS

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