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EU Antitrust Ruling Says Google Abusing Patent Position in German Lawsuit Against Apple

The New York Times reports that Google and its Motorola Mobility unit have been found to be abusing their patent dominance in 3G wireless networking technology by the European Commission. The ruling, which comes in the form of a preliminary finding that could lead to formal antitrust charges but has yet to do so, addresses Motorola's efforts to bar European sales of Apple's 3G mobile devices over infringement of "standards essential" patents that Motorola is required to license under reasonable terms.

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Apple did briefly pull a number of devices from its German online store in February 2012, but they quickly returned after an injunction was lifted and Apple later won long-term protection from sales bans while its appeal in the case is heard.

The European Commission's report today calls Motorola's efforts to enforce a sales ban based on these standards essential patents "an abuse of a dominant position prohibited by E.U. antitrust rules."
“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,” said Joaquín Almunia, the European Union’s competition commissioner, in a statement Monday, before a news briefing on the topic.
Apple has of course also targeted its competitors with lawsuits seeking sales bans over patent infringement, but Apple's efforts do not involve standards essential patents that are required to be licensed.

The technology covered by these standards essential patents has been judged to be integral for any device supporting a given functionality, with rights holders being required to license the patents under fair and reasonable terms in order to promote competition. In this case, Apple and Google/Motorola differ on what the reasonable licensing rates should be and thus do not have a licensing agreement in place.

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18 months ago
Another slap in the face of Google. If they thought purchasing patents via Motorola was a good idea to bolster their patent portfolio then they are sorely mistaken. Motorola patents are worth jack ****.

Google is such a hypocritical company. On the one hand they talk to the press about openness and how they want peace with Apple. On the other hand they try to enforce FRAND patents against other companies.
Rating: 17 Votes
18 months ago
No one cares anymore.
Rating: 6 Votes
18 months ago
interesting and all the apple haters said apple is the bad guy in patent processes
Rating: 6 Votes
18 months ago

No one cares anymore.


YOU don't care anymore because Apple is winning? Interesting.
Rating: 6 Votes
18 months ago

Another slap in the face of Google. If they thought purchasing patents via Motorola was a good idea to bolster their patent portfolio then they are sorely mistaken. Motorola patents are worth jack ****.

Google is such a hypocritical company. On the one hand they talk to the press about openness and how they want peace with Apple. On the other hand they try to enforce FRAND patents against other companies.


Actually - Motorola has THOUSDANDS of patents. A lot have never been used. But they own them. A lot of cool things too that have never been on a phone. A lot of crap ones too. They didn't just get a handful of patents they need/want to litigate on. They have an endless (almost) repository of potential. So yes - it was a great acquisition for them.

It's not so much a disagreement, if I recall correctly, but that Motorola was demanding a higher rate from Apple than they were everyone else. Which puts the blame squarely in their court.



If I recall correctly - they were arguing that they wanted a flat percentage and that Apple rejected that because their phones cost more than many other phones using the same patents. I could be wrong.
Rating: 5 Votes
18 months ago

Instead of punishing people for working the system, why don't they fix the system?


The system is working perfectly fine as it is.

Android ripped IOS off. Apple was certain it had a good case, and took OEMs who were making money off Android devices to court. They have since scored several wins, and OEMs like HTC have entered licensing agreements with Apple.

The problem arose when Google/Samsung decided to fight Apple with dirty tricks like trying to inflict injunction on Apple products using FRAND patents.

This is nothing short of criminal behavior and it has now backfired tremendously for all of them.

The right thing for Google would have been to let the courts decide if Apple had a case or not. Instead they bought Motorola to try muscle Apple from obtaining rightfully licensing for their work.

What really amazes me is they & their lawyers really thought this would work in the first place.. Using FRAND patents to obtain injunctions is as anti-trust and abusive as you can possibly get.

What all the Android players should do now is pony up the licensing deals for past work, and come up with a "next generation" android that is fresh and original much like how Microsoft did.

Apple had a case, a very good case and they have scored several wins against OEMs. They have not been playing dirty, they have simply let the courts decide.

And as for the system? It appears to be working, bad people get caught.
Rating: 5 Votes
18 months ago
Who trusted Google in the first place anyway?
Rating: 4 Votes
18 months ago

No one cares anymore.


YOU don't care anymore because Apple is winning? Interesting.


Not everyone sits around cheering on the Apple vs. Google patent battle. Some of us just want a new iPhone or iPad or Mac. Crazy, I know.
Rating: 4 Votes
18 months ago


Android ripped IOS off. Apple was certain it had a good case, and took OEMs who were making money off Android devices to court. They have since scored several wins, and OEMs like HTC have entered licensing agreements with Apple.


And exactly what ripped off?

Using FRAND patents to obtain injunctions is as anti-trust and abusive as you can possibly get.


No, it isn't, and the EC text show it clear as th FTC settling made it clear
Rating: 3 Votes
18 months ago

And yet Apple are allowed to screw Samsung over a slab with rounded corners in the US? And allowed to bundle Safari and iTunes with OS X in Europe while Microsoft got screwed in an EU antitrust ruling over the same behaviour?

Let's face it. The whole world's legal system is f**ed. If such a thing were possible, I'd just like to see an outright ban on Apple vs Android OEM lawsuits and visa versa. This has got ridiculous now. I'm going to go and buy an Openmoko device just so I'm not supporting any of these idiots.


In a nutshell, yes they are allowed to do that.

Companies sign contracts that say they will give a license to certain (not all) of their patents to anybody who asks at a fair and non-discriminatory rate. Those companies cannot refuse a license to anybody. Motorola and Samsung have been arguing that they should be allowed to ignore those commitments they made with no reason. The idea is that if they somehow manage to get an injunction which legally bars Apple from making a telephone, Apple would have a gun to its head to pay whatever exorbitant rate they want. They basically want the courts to help them blackmail Apple.

What Motorola and Samsung are doing has enormous repercussions throughout the entire technology industry. What if Qualcomm was to act in that way? The way the Common Law system works is by precedent. If Moto or Samsung got their way, it would set a precedent that would cripple innovation all over the industry.

Bear in mind that the actual content of the patents is irrelevant in this context. Samsung and Motorola would still be outrageously abusing their standards-essential patents.

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This isn't just a legal battle, though - it's also a PR battle. If a court finds that you ripped off the good ideas of your biggest competitor, it doesn't do much for your public image. If you're Samsung or Motorola, how do you protect your brand against that?

The answer is by muddying the waters. They mixed their standards-essential patents in to the picture (that's the outrageous, abusive act that the FTC and the EU have both ruled against). They started lots of suits against Apple in countries where they thought they could get a quick injunction to put that gun to Apple's head (basically, Germany).

Law is complex, and most people don't care about the details. I'm not surprised people such as yourself can't be bothered with the details and just say "oh, they're all as bad as each other". That's what Samsung and Moto want you to think so you don't look too closely at what they're actually doing.

Let's imagine we're neighbours. I break your window and refuse to pay; you sue me. Then I start suing you because the colour of your hair is offensive, and because your kid's ball landed in my garden, and all kinds of frivolous stuff. Obviously my suits are all total horsecrap, but to everybody else in the street who can't be bothered with the details, we're just at war over something and they can't be bothered with who's right or wrong.

If by some luck I do manage to prevail on any of them, I'll use it as leverage against you to drop your (valid) suit against me.

And that's what they did. As I said, Samsung and Moto have lost all of their attempts to get Apple's products banned with their SEPs. Apple, on the other hand, do have a legitimate case and are winning their cases.
Rating: 3 Votes

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