By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
August 7, 2011

A Cold War analysis in which Google plays the part of North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il

Daniel Eran Dilger, one of the cleverest writers covering Apple — both at AppleInsider, and on his own blog, Roughly Drafted Magazine — has posted an analysis of the latest twist in the smartphone patent wars that reads like a Cold War-era thriller.


Why is Google playing the Cold War patent game in the age of patent terrorism?

Cast of characters:

  • The patent trolls (LodSys and other so-called nonpracticing entities): Terrorists “leverag[ing] the latent power of the patent to threaten widespread damage if their demands are not met”
  • Apple (AAPL): A nuclear superpower trying to disarm the trolls
  • Microsoft (MSFT): Like the former U.S.S.R., it has abandoned its policy of mutually assured destruction and is now working with the West to make sure the trolls don’t get their hands on nuclear weapons
  • Google (GOOG): A developing country, like India or North Korea, “that has never had much clout in the patent wars” but has “aspirations to become an important power just by accumulating the firepower to retaliate to imagined threats from the West”

“Today’s existing superpowers,” Dilger writes, “are both mystified and somewhat entertained by the notion that these pissant countries really see themselves as puissant nations, even as their real attention remains focused on the modern threats of extremist religious conservatives who want to blow up buildings or shoot children to get attention.”

“How did Google,” he asks, “end up with both majority market share and a persecution complex? And why does it think the tech world is still operating under the antiquated rules of the Cold War rather than recognizing the real threat of patent terrorism? Understanding this insanity requires a historical overview of how Google put itself in the position of, I can’t help it, North Korea as a diminutive braggadocio running a bankrupt little copycat nation that it is clearly not equipped to run.”

It’s a fascinating story, and Dilger tells it with flair. You can read it here.

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