Mobile hardware

Google gets Motorola approval

Warwick Ashford

US and European regulators have approved Google's $12.5bn deal to acquire phone maker Motorola Mobility, but approval is still required from China, Taiwan and Israel before the deal can go ahead.

The European Commission (EC) was initially concerned that Google might restrict the use of the Android mobile operating system to Motorola, but decided that the move was unlikely.

The EC and US regulators agreed that the deal would not raise competition issues in the market for operating systems for devices such as mobile phones or tablets, but both authorities said they will monitor Google’s and rivals’ use of patents, according to the BBC.

If the deal goes ahead, Google will get access to more than 17,000 patents held by Motorola Mobility.

Industry analysts say the acquisition will allow Google to provide patent protection to device makers using its Android mobile operating system, which are currently facing legal attacks over patents from companies including Apple and Microsoft.

EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the Commission will continue to keep a close eye on the behaviour of all market players, particularly the increasingly strategic use of patents.

Last month, European regulators launched an investigation into whether Samsung was using some of its key patents to hinder competitors.

In a similar warning, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said it would continue to monitor the market and would not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action to stop any anti-competitive use of standards-essential patents (SEPs), according to The Guardian.

The DoJ said that while Apple and Microsoft had made clear commitments over licensing of SEPs for use in smartphones, Google's commitments were "more ambiguous and do not provide the same direct confirmation of its SEP licensing policies".

When the deal was announced in August, Google chief executive Larry Page emphasised that Motorola Mobility would remain a licensee of Android, and Android will remain open, with Mobility run as a separate entity.


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