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Google (Motorola) forced to accept FRAND patent license to Apple in Germany

August 28, 2012

In addition to fighting, and beating Samsung in various courts, with the most important victory scored in the U.S. last week, Apple is also involved in other patent-based lawsuits involving other major Android players including HTC and Google (Motorola).

The Apple vs Motorola conflict is all the more important now that Google completed its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola, as Apple and Google are formally facing each other in various courts in the USA but also other regions such as Germany.

And it’s in Germany that Motorola obtained a few injunctions against Apple, all stayed pending appeals. FOSS Patents explains how injunction works in the country:

Motorola placed particular hopes on one jurisdiction: Germany, a country in which a finding of infringement automatically results in an injunction, the only exception being standard-essential patents, to which certain German courts apply the Orange-Book-Standard framework. The Orange-Book-Standard line is that an implementer of an industry standard seeking to avoid an injunction over a patent essential to the relevant standard must make an offer to take a license on terms that the patent holder cannot refuse without flagrantly violating antitrust law.

The same publication reveals that Apple has made an offer to license certain FRAND, or standard essential, patents in the region, which Motorola is forced to accept in order to avoid breaking antitrust laws. In fact, Google is already investigated by the EU for FRAND patent abuse in the region, which means that it can’t keep refusing a patent license to Apple in hopes of using those FRAND patents as leverage to squeeze out a better settlement with the iPhone maker in the future.

However, it’s worth noting that the deal only covers FRAND patents and it’s only applicable to Germany for now, which means Google can use the same FRAND patents in other lawsuits against Apple. At the same time, and especially considering previous rulings on FRAND patents in the U.S. – see Judge Richard Posner’s take on Motorola FRAND patents and, more recently, the devastating Samsung defeat in which Apple was not found to be infringing FRAND patents – it’s not likely to see Google obtain any significant victory against Apple on FRAND patents alone.

Rest assured though that Google is also fighting Apple with non-FRAND patents such as one that covers push email notifications and which is currently enforced in Germany – the feature is not available on various iOS devices.

As for Apple, the company won’t have to pay over a 2.25% rate to Google, which is what Motorola “has been demanding for a long time.” While the deal has been confirmed by Google (Motorola), neither party has mentioned how much money Apple has to pay to Google.

We’ll be back with more news from these Apple vs Android patent wars in the near future, as the conflict is yet to be resolved.