Google is once again talking the right talk in the ongoing conversation about software patents and their effects on innovation. CNET reports that Google's public policy director Pablo Chavez spoke out at the Technology Policy Institute's Aspen conference today, arguing that broad, abstract software patents serve only to stymie innovation. Google's ultimate goal is to make inroads and "brainstorm longterm solutions" towards patent reform — a stance that's seemingly at odds with its own behavior, as its subsidiary Motorola launched a new patent case against Apple just last week.
"We think that these patent wars are not helpful to consumers. They're not helpful to the marketplace. They're not helpful to innovation."
Google is no stranger to the mire of patent litigation, as evinced by its own lengthy legal battle against Oracle. The company has also made numerous efforts in the past to combat vague, abstract patents it believes serve only to stifle the sort of grassroots innovation that drive industry growth. In a conversation with VentureBeat, a Google spokesperson remarked that the company is wary of the current 20-year shelf life of software patents, and also calling for stronger financial penalties against so-called patent trolls who lose a lawsuit.
Setting aside the cognitive dissonance of arguing against patent litigation while its subsidiary launches a new legal battle, Google's slow-going efforts to establish a discussion on software patent reform could prove beneficial, provided there's a bit of substantive discussion. Twitter's own Innovator's Patent Agreement also seems like a step in the right direction. Still, in the current patent wars it seems like we could use a little less conversation, and a little more action.