By Janet I. Tu
Seattle Times technology reporter
It seems not a week goes by these days without news of another patent battle or announcement: Microsoft reaching licensing agreements with various device manufacturers. Apple and various handset manufacturers filing suits and countersuits. Oracle suing Google over the use of Java in Android.
Not to mention barbed digs and jabs that company executives trade over blogs, Twitter and news releases.
After Microsoft and Samsung announced a patent-licensing agreement last month involving Google's Android operating system, Google issued a statement saying, in part: "This is the same tactic we've seen time and again from Microsoft. Failing to succeed in the smartphone market, they are resorting to legal measures to extort profit from others' achievements and hinder the pace of innovation."
Microsoft's PR chief Frank Shaw shot back via Twitter: "Let me boil down the Google statement ... from 48 words to 1: Waaaah."
So what gives? What's up with the spate of patent petulance?
The answer is that they're visible signs that technology companies' patent practices have evolved from using them to defend their own inventions to deploying them as a significant part of competitive strategies in the fast-growing mobile market.