Google, FTC officially settle Motorola patent spat

Google FTC Motorola Patent Settlement
Google FTC Motorola Patent Settlement

Google hasn’t had much to show for its acquisition of Motorola and the Federal Trade Commission is making sure it stays that way. The FTC announced on Wednesday that it had reached a settlement with Google over the company’s alleged misuse of Motorola’s standard-essential patents whereby Google will agree to license the patents “on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory or FRAND terms.” Google and the agency had originally agreed to a settlement of the Motorola patent case late last year but the FTC says it’s made some revisions to the original terms, “including those pertaining to the arbitration process established to resolve disputes over FRAND terms,” after hearing public comments.

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Google, of course, primarily acquired Motorola for the value of its patent portfolio and the company has admitted that nearly half of the $12.4 billion it paid to buy the company was related to its intellectual property holdings. Google hasn’t done much with Motorola since buying it other than laying off its workforce and selling it off its divisions for parts, although that’s changed recently with the release of Motorola’s latest Droid devices and the upcoming release of the Moto X smartphone.

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The FTC’s press release follows below.

FTC Finalizes Settlement in Google Motorola Mobility Case

Agency Makes Technical Modifications to Final Order in Response to Public Comments

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission approved a modified Final Order settling charges that some of Google Inc.’s business practices could stifle competitionamong manufacturers of electronic devices.

The Final Order requires Google to abide by its commitments to license its standard-essential patents on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory or FRAND terms. These standard-essential patents are needed to make popular devices such as smart phones, laptop and tablet computers, and gaming consoles. The agency alleged that Google had reneged on these commitments and pursued – or threatened to pursue – injunctions and exclusion orders against companies that need to use standard-essential patents held by Google’s subsidiary, Motorola Mobility LLC (MMI), in their devices and were willing to license these patents on FRAND terms.

After considering the 25 public comments that were submitted, the FTC made technical modifications to several provisions in the Order, including those pertaining to the arbitration process established to resolve disputes over FRAND terms. In a letter sent to the commenters, the agency also provided further explanation for the basis and the rationale behind several other provisions in the Google-MMI Order.

The Commission vote approving the final order and the letter was 2-1-1, with Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen voting no and Commissioner Joshua D. Wright recused.

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