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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Top Rated Comments

sadesh Avatar
146 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.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bbeagle Avatar
146 months ago
No one cares anymore.
YOU don't care anymore because Apple is winning? Interesting.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JarJarThomas Avatar
146 months ago
interesting and all the apple haters said apple is the bad guy in patent processes
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
elvetio Avatar
146 months ago
...

No one cares anymore.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hydr Avatar
146 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.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
samcraig Avatar
146 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.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)