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The year in Google: Legal fights, acquisitions, mobile hardware - but little from core search business

19 Dec 2012
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Like most years, 2012 has been a busy year for Google. From lawsuits to new devices, Googlers had their fair share of good and bad news. Starting in January and moving all the way through the year, Google was never short on news-making headlines.

Google set out to buy Motorola Mobility in 2011. However, to finally be able to call the purchase its own it had to go through a slew of clearances by government officials.

First up was clearance from US and European officials in February. Then Chinese authorities gave the go ahead. Soon Google wrapped up its new acquisition and was on its way to the clearing house.

Motorola's chief executive stepped down after all the approvals came through. Google then cut 4,000 Motorola jobs to make room for its grand vision of the company. The search giant has since warned of more layoffs in the near future.

All the layoffs and other Motorola dealings led some to question why Google even bought the mobile phone maker. Some griped that Google just spent $12.5bn on a company it didn't need.

However, Google's true game eventually came to life when it was revealed that $5.5bn of the total Motorola price tag was for the fledgling smartphone maker's patents. That was a big deal because it looked to help Google's other year-long cause of suing Apple for patent infringement.

The Google and Apple patent cases weren't just a news grabber for one month; it was an inanely lengthy ordeal that seemed to live longer than the Highlander.

The Apple versus Google patent cases kicked off when recently acquired Motorola Mobility struck an early win for Google. A group of officials from the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Motorola phones were not in violation of three Apple patents.

Following the loss, Apple called on European Commission (EC) regulators to step in and put a stop Motorola's "unfair" use of patents in Europe. Apple's plea was upended later this year when the iPhone maker struck a major win against Motorola in Germany.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) called out Google/Motorola for using its patent to weaken competition. The FTC asked the ITC to quell the patent infringement cases and look into some other form of punishment.

By August, Google/Motorola was attempting peace talks with Apple to come to some sort of not-so-courtroom-heavy agreement. Nothing came from the talks but at least both billion dollar companies tried.

Eventually Apple was adding Google's Jelly Bean OS to the patent infringement filings, while a Wisconsin judge was dismissing a separate Apple versus Motorola/Google case outright.

All this and the cases are not even close to ending. Google/Motorola and Apple continue to try to sue each other out of the market place.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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