Regulators Give Nod to Google-Motorola Merger
Author: John Duckgeischel on February 14, 2012 - 7:45 AM
Europe and the U.S. have given their approval of Google’s $12.5 billion
acquisition of Motorola Mobility.
Regulators on both side of the Atlantic say they will be watching to
make sure Google uses fair pricing to license the large collection of Motorola
patents that it will acquire in the deal.
Motorola’s 17,000 patents and 7,500 patent applications helped make it
an attractive acquisition target for Google, as the company has battled to
protect and defend its patent position in court against Apple and other
rivals. The purchase is Google’s
largest and it also moves it significantly into the hardware business for the first
time. The merger is still pending
additional government approvals in Israel, Taiwan and China.
The U.S. DOJ also
announced approval of a large purchase of patents from bankrupt Nortel Networks. The patents have been sold to an Apple-led
consortium and they will be divided among the companies that have joined the
consortium. Government anti-trust
officials are making efforts to prevent price gouging of competitors and
ultimately impacting consumers. "This merger decision should not and will
not mean that we are not concerned by the possibility that, once Google is the
owner of this portfolio, Google can abuse these patents, linking some patents
with its Android devices. This is our worry," EU Competition Commissioner
Joaquin Almunia said to reporters in Brussels.
In the U.S. regulators will also continue to monitor Google’s practices
regarding its patents. "If Google makes it more difficult for new
technologies to emerge, by locking-in existing licensees of the patents so that
it becomes not profitable for them to adopt other technologies, that's the kind
of thing that might give rise to antitrust scrutiny down the road," said
Shubha Ghosh, a professor at University of Wisconsin Law School.
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