Motorola warned by European Commission over patent licensing to Apple

May 7, 2013
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Motorola just can’t win lately. Literally can’t win. On the heels of the devastating judgement in regard to their patent agreement with Microsoft, Motorola has been dealt another tough card to play.

Yesterday, the European Commission announced that they have warned Motorola about its use of standard essential patents against Apple. More specifically, they warned them about seeking an injunction against Apple rather than licensing patents in Germany. According the the European Commission, Motorola’s actions directly contradict fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

If you’re curious how this all works, you’re probably not alone. To summarize it quickly, any technology that a company has a patent on, that is deemed standard for operating, is subject to FRAND terms. When a company like Motorola has a patent on something that is just an industry standard, they’ve got to license it to others under those FRAND guidelines. The system is meant to keep things competitive and balanced, yet not encourage a monopoly. Licensing terms must be fair and equitable.

Explaining the Europena Commision’s decision to warn Motorola, Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia has this to say:

The protection of intellectual property is a cornerstone of innovation and growth. But so is competition. I think that companies should spend their time innovating and competing on the merits of the products they offer – not misusing their intellectual property rights to hold up competitors to the detriment of innovation and consumer choice.

Fair is the order of the day here, and we’re sure there is an amicable end to this story. That famed “treasure trove” of patents Motorola held seems to be eroding quickly for Google. We hope they had something else in mind when purchasing the device manufacturer.

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