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Google’ s (NASDAQ:GOOG) $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) is a game-changer on several fronts, particularly in the patent arena.

Android sits at the center of several ongoing patent disputes, some of which have escalated into particularly vicious courtroom battles. Earlier this year, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) led a consortium of companies in a winning $4.5 billion bid for some 6,000 wireless technology patents and patent applications formerly owned by Nortel. In the wake of the purchase, Google made very public its concerns that those patents would be used to place Android in a legal chokehold.

Now, those Android battles have led Google to take the enormous step of purchasing Motorola, which comes with around 17,000 patents with another 7,000 reportedly pending. By purchasing the handset maker, Google also takes a bold step into the hardware-manufacturing arena, placing it in more direct competition with the likes of not only Apple, but also Research In Motion (whose BlackBerry franchise continues to battle Android in the corporate arena) and Nokia.  

“We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android,” Google CEO Larry Page wrote in an Aug. 15 corporate blog posting. “Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.”

For its part, Microsoft declined to comment on Google’s acquisition. Outside analysts, though, seem to regard Google’s move as a potentially good one — so long as the search engine giant can avoid irritating other manufacturing partners who use Android in their devices.

“This will provide more balance and a better defensive position for Android, which was getting killed in court,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst of the Enderle Group, wrote in an Aug. 15 email to eWEEK. The real issue, he added, “will be the licensees who won’t want to compete with a company they license from, because it will put them at too much of a disadvantage.”

To read the original eWeek article, click here: Google, Motorola Deal Will Affect Android Battles, Windows Phone