Intelligent, defensive strategy
Yes, Google needed something to fend of the nastiness of Apple + Microsoft patent attacks.
No one ever accused The Reg of being a reputable, neutral IT rag, but all the venom and instant-negativity of this article seems more than a little biased. Google has shared its wealth, innovation, and IP in the past (for example: Android, VP8, web services, open source projects, and their web advertising exposure has helped may companies grow), they have done very well as a result of this, so it seems reasonable to expect that they will continue to behave this way, as a good corporate citizen should. If they said they will use their patents to help others, that is probably exactly what they will do.
On the other hand, the "proprietary twins" (Apple & Microsoft) seem intent on killing off every other corporation (including each other) with their constant patent threats and anticompetitive lawsuits. However, it is kind of funny to watch them trying to "band together" against Google (contrary to their natural predatory instincts). Just imagine how hard it must be for Jobs or Ballmer to mouth the words "trust" and "cooperate".
So, unless Apple and Microsoft are paying the bills, perhaps the Reg could give Google the benefit of the doubt, or at least write articles from a slightly less biased viewpoint?