Google’s attempt to ban Apple’s iPhone and iPad in the US is in jeopardy, as the FTC has decided to support Apple.
Google seeked a ban on Apple’s popular mobile devices on the basis of Standard Essential Patents (SEP). Google’s Motorola Mobility division holds SEPs that it is obligated to license to other companies under fair and non-discriminatory terms.
FTC says that the ban the Google requested would be harmful to consumers, and it would also damage innovation and result in increased costs and uncertainty for other companies. In a statement, the Commission said that using SEP-based injunctions against competitors is equivalent to a ‘patent hold up’.
Here’s the FTC’s relevant statement on the issue:
“Hold-up and the threat of hold-up can deter innovation by increasing costs and uncertainty for other industry participants, including those engaged in inventive activity. It can also distort investment and harm consumers by breaking the connection between the value of an invention and its reward — a connection that is the cornerstone of the patent system.”
Google’s (through Motorola) attempt to ban Apple products is seen as too aggressive by many industry watchers. Critics say that Google should have settled instead of taking the battle over SEP (which it is obligated to licence) to ban it’s biggest rival’s product.
FTC has always been vocal when about Google’s attempt to obtain on bans based on SEP patents; the agency made similar comments when the Mountain View company tried to get import bans on Microsoft’s Xbox.