Google considering mobile patent antitrust settlement

October 20, 2012
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Google has been under fire from various government agencies around the world lately who are investigating antitrust and other lawsuits against the company. Now Google is said to be considering whether to settle with U.S. authorities over how it has handled its mobile patents.

Along with Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility in May came a truckload of lawsuits.  Some were Motorola suing companies for allegedly infringing on its patents, others were companies suing Motorola Mobility for refusing to license its patents. Ever since, authorities have been debating whether many of Motorola’s patents are essential to certain technologies, which would require these patents to be licensed, whether Motorola Mobility wants to license them or not.

These types of patents are referred to as FRAND, which stands for “free, reasonable and non-discriminatory.” These patents are generally required to be licensed to ensure interoperability between devices from different manufacturers. FTC lawyers have threatened to bring a case against Google for using Motorola’s patents as a weapon against competitors.

This is not the only instance in which Google is being accused of using its technologies against competitors. Businesses like Yelp have often opined that Google unfairly promotes its own services over those of competitors in search listings. Meanwhile, Google contends that its search results should be treated as opinion and protected by free-speech rights as such. Some have suggested that Google label its own products clearly in search results to resolve this matter.

FTC lawyers have cited certain instances where Motorola might have abused its position as a holder of FRAND patents. In response, Google has been quick to claim that competitors like Apple have acted the same way, suing competitors rather than properly licensing patents.

With the FTC continuing to pursue an antitrust lawsuit against Google, it may be better for them to settle now and pay up, rather than enter a drawn out legal battle. On the flip side of the coin, this could set precedent, causing governments worldwide to begin pursuing litigation against Google as well.

Do you think that Google has violated antitrust law? Do you think that Motorola Mobility is wrong to deny access to some of its patents? Or does the FTC just have it out for Google?

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