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