Patents are a mixed blessing. On the one hand, they let a company protect its intellectual property and make a profit from its hard work and innovation.
On the other hand, patents can stop small or creative companies from bringing exciting new concepts to the market because they may have to pay huge licensing fees. It doesn't help that the U.S. Patent Office is giving out patents for things that are clearly ridiculous.
Then there are "patent trolls" that buy up mountains of patents they have no intention of using, but then go sue companies that potentially infringe on the patents. Usually they can get a tidy settlement out of it.
Google is no stranger to both sides of patents, and it thinks it found a way to get the good side of patents with less of the bad. That's why last April, Google went on a patent-buying spree.
For 30 days, anyone with a patent could submit it to Google and Google would consider buying it for $3,000 to $250,000 per patent. Google also promised to only use the patents to defend itself in lawsuits, not sue anyone else.
It was a smart move to keep potentially damaging patents away from patent trolls. In the end, Google bought about 28% of the submitted patents that it thought applied to its business. However, Google isn't stopping there.