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European Commission opens Motorola investigation

Tue, 04/03/2012 - 2:59pm
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

As Google awaits approval from China on its bid to purchase Motorola Mobility, the Internet giant will no doubt also be keeping an eye on two formal antitrust investigations against Motorola Mobility announced today by the European Commission.

The commission will try to assess whether Motorola has failed to license certain standard essential patents under Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

The investigations come in the wake of complaints by Apple and Microsoft after Motorola failed to agree to licensing terms on certain standard-essential patents. As a result, the commission has enforced injunctions against Apple and Microsoft's flagship products, such as the iPhone, iPad, Windows and Xbox.

In November, Apple wrote a letter to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) decrying the industry's lack of adherence to FRAND terms in the "cellular arena.”

Motorola has formally committed to standards bodies that it would uphold FRAND terms regarding 2G and 3G mobile and wireless telecommunications system standards, the H.264 video compression standard, and the standards for wireless local area network (WLAN) technologies.

But the commission said it will examine whether Motorola's failure to license standard-essential patents amounts to an abuse of a dominant market position prohibited by Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU).

In addition, the commission will assess allegations by both Apple and Microsoft that Motorola offered unfair licensing conditions for its standard-essential patents, which also would be in breach of Article 102 TFEU.

The commission approved Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility on Feb. 13 "without prejudice to potential antitrust concerns related to the use of standard essential patents.”

In January, the commission also launched an investigation into Samsung’s practices around standard-essential patents and possible failures to adhere to FRAND terms.

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