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Google reaches settlement with FTC and agrees to provide access to FRAND patents

News by Andrew Kameka on Thursday January 03, 2013.

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Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola was seen largely as a play for the company's vast library of patents that could be leveraged against its rivals; however, in order to avoid further issues with the FTC's investigation into whether that action is anti-competitie, Google has agreed not to seek injunctions against companies that are willing to license those essential patents.

The FTC has announced that Google has agreed to alter its business practices and make commitments to adjust its search and mobile phone activities. Though reports circulated last year that the FTC would recommend prosecuting Google for antitrust violations related to patents, the two sides have reached an agreement to avoid such a process.

Under the terms of the settlement, Google will not use the hundreds of industry standard patents that it acquired from Motorola to threaten other companies that are willing to license the essential patents. Google will have to license the patents under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) rates. The Commission alleged that Google used its acquired patents to target rivals and seek injunctions against their products, and Google has agreed to a Consent Order that prevents it from filing injunctions against companies willing to pay a royalty for access to the patent.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz today said that this closes the commission's investigation into Google and ensures that the company will not block access to consumer electronics or take action that leads to exorbitant cost increases. In a prepared statement, Leibowitz said:

"Today's action makes clear that commitments to make patents available on reasonable terms matter, and that companies cannot make those commitments when it suits them - that is, to have their patents included in a standard and then behave opportunistically later, once the standard is in place and those relying on it are vulnerable to extortion. Today's Commission action will also relieve companies of some of the costly and inefficient burden of hoarding patents for purely defensive purposes, savings that we hope can be invested in job-creating research and development."

source: FTC

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Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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