With a reported 17,000 patents expected to be at Google’s disposal when it completes its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, the search giant may only need to utilise a group of 18 specific patents to help protect its Android ecosystem in the face of increased legal action in the smartphone and tablet industry.

Bloomberg reports that Motorola’s intellectual property dates back to 1994, with the 18 patents including innovations covering location services, antenna designs, e-mail transmission, touch-screen motions, software-application manages and 3G protocols. These patents are said to be behind Motorola’s lawsuits against Apple and are the strongest patents available to the company, says David Mixon, a patent lawyer at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings in Huntsville, Alabama.

Google, which owns around 1,000 patents of its own, will add Motorola’s 17,000 awarded patents to its portfolio, with a further 7,500 Motorola patents waiting to be validated. The search giant has been involved in two lawsuits surrounding its Android operating system but has remained largely untouched in recent legal fights between Apple and makers of Android smartphones and tablets, particularly Samsung and HTC.

The new patents will arm Google against its rivals, positioning the company so it may be able to fend of potential litigation because of its broad patent portfolio, which could in-turn be used against a company accusing it of infringing its intellectual property.

Motorola has already asserted its patents against Apple, targeting the iPhone 4, iPad, AppleTV and MacBook Air, utilising four of the 18 “strong” patents against RIM to secure a cross-licensing deal last year.