They better do that quickly then, Microsoft and Apple are not standing still. It would be interesting to observe the reaction of Android OEMs in the coming weeks and months. Whether they received assurances from Google or not, we will know.
tb1: Thanks for the link. In more detail, Motorola spells out their patent positions as:
"As of January 2011, Motorola will own approximately 24,500 patents and patent applications, worldwide. These include substantially all of the patents unique to Mobile Devices and Home businesses. Our patent portfolio generally relates to wireless, audio, video, security, user interface and product design, along with applications and services related to our products. Our Mobile Devices business segment will have approximately 14,600 granted patents and 6,700 pending patent applications, worldwide. Our patent portfolio includes numerous patents related to various industry standards, including 2G, 3G, 4G, H.264, MPEG-4, 802.11, open mobile alliance (OMA) and near field communications (NFC). The Home business segment will have approximately 1,900 granted patents and 1,300 pending patent applications, worldwide. Further, we believe our portfolio of patents in 4G will position our customers well in the upcoming technology transition from 2G to 3G."
What company won't be affected by one or more of these?
Funny, for years I have heard the joke that patent licensing deals are based on the weights of the stack, i.e., "my stack weighs 1247 pounds and yours only weighs 968 pounds, so you owe me $20 million."
Check out this Motorola web page describing their patent portfolio (near the bottom):
Motorola apparently has MPEG patents too, which will probably help in their fight with the MPEG consortium.
Perhaps Google will just move the patents and the patent lawyers into a Google division and then sell of all the hardware side as a new company, which has a license to the patents. It can also choose to license some or all of the patents to its Android customers.
Notice that all of this is on the size of the patent stack, not on someone having a fundamental patent that prevents anyone else doing anything in the mobile market. Patent licensing deals might as well be done with a ruler and a calculator ie "my stack is two inches deeper than yours so you owe me $20million". Engineers can always find a way around a patent, but that is often a terrible waste of creative effort.
To continue to grow Android in the marketplace, Google needs the other cellphone makers. One way to appease them would be to offer some protection against suits by Apple in that they now have a sizable patent portfolio to counter attack with.
Whether this is the intention or not, I don't know.
From a story of Nov. 10, 2004, (http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/regulation/2004/11/10/microsoft-adds-ip-indemnity-to-linux-fight-39173136/) it is stated that "Microsoft will indemnify nearly all its customers against any claims that their use of Microsoft software infringed on any intellectual property claims."
The same tactic might be used by Google for all its Android users, and as Rick suggests, get out of the hardware business or sell it to an existing Android HW cell phone maker.
I agree with those who say Google might spin Moto off in a year or two after it puts protective cross licenses in place for both companies and key partners. This would make more sense than owning a Moto that it can never get synergies from because it has to treat them as an equal partner to other Android OEMs. Googlre can NOT be another Apple because it cannot let there be close technical ties between Moto hw and Google sw without poisoning the Android ecosystem. And you will never see Moto do its own A4/5/6 like ASIC for Android. So cross license and spin off would seem to be the right strategy.