Google agrees to license Motorola patents, ending FTC's antitrust investigation

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Google has warded off an antitrust investigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission by agreeing to license certain patents to its rivals in the mobile phone business.

The FTC announced on Thursday that Google has agreed to license "essential" patents to competitors such as Apple, some of which were acquired in its acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

"The changes Google has agreed to make will ensure that consumers continue to reap the benefits of competition in the online marketplace and in the market for innovative wireless devices they enjoy," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. "This was an incredibly thorough and careful investigation by the Commission, and the outcome is a strong and enforceable set of agreements."

Google will allow competitors fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory access to patents essential to smartphones, tablets, laptops, and gaming consoles.

Google


The search giant also agreed to give advertisers more flexibility to manage their ad campaigns with Google's AdWords along with rival ad platforms. And Google also agreed to stop lifting content from "vertical" websites, which focus on categories such as shopping or travel, and presenting it in its own vertical offerings.

The FTC found that Google's business practices could stifle competition in markets for devices like smartphones and tablets, as well as online search advertising.

"The evidence the FTC uncovered through this intensive investigation prompted us to require significant changes in Google?s business practices," said Beth Wilkinson, outside counsel to the FTC. "However, regarding the specific allegations that the company biased its search results to hurt competition, the evidence collected to date did not justify legal action by the Commission.

"Undoubtedly, Google took aggressive actions to gain advantage over rival search providers. However, the FTC?s mission is to protect competition, and not individual competitors. The evidence did not demonstrate that Google?s actions in this area stifled competition in violation of U.S. law."

In all, Google has agreed to take the following steps, as detailed by the FTC:
  • Google will not seek injunctions to block rivals from using patents essential to key technologies
  • Google will remove restrictions hampering advertisers? management of their ad campaigns across competing ad platforms
The FTC also announced it has closed another investigation into allegations of search bias by Google. The commission took a closer look at Google's "Universal Search" product, but eventually concluded that changes made to Google's search algorithms could be plausibly justified as innovations that improved Google's product, and the experience for its users.

The FTC staff initially recommended in November that Google be sued via antitrust law over FRAND patnet abuse. The FTC began its civil investigation into Google last July.

Google also ran into trouble with the FTC last year for bypassing settings in Apple's Safari browser. Google agreed to pay a record $22.5 million fine for ignoring security settings Apple had designed to prevent advertisers from tracking users with cookies.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 73
    Huh. All it took was the FTC watchdogging to ensure that google was not being evil.
    Imagine that.
  • Reply 2 of 73
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,186member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    In all, Google has agreed to take the following steps, as detailed by the FTC:


    • Google will not seek injunctions to block rivals from using patents essential to key technologies


    •  



    It should also be noted that the FTC would not go so far as to bar Google, or any company for that matter, from seeking injunctions based on SEP's in all cases. If a company is deemed to be an unwilling licensee the FTC may not object to an injunction as a cure. In addition a company, for instance Apple, may be be required to commit to binding arbitration if they are unable to reach agreement with the patent holder on an appropriate royalty or risk being deemed as an unwilling licensee, at least as I read it. That's something Apple has found unacceptable so far. Too, the FTC did not find Google had done anything wrong with regard to SEP's so far. 


     


    Overall it's sounds like a fair resolution IMO, and the proper way to go forward.


    https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/1210120/130103googlemotorolado.pdf


    http://www.fosspatents.com/2012/11/googles-motorola-says-it-wants-binding.html


     


    EDIT: I suspect Microsoft is fuming.

  • Reply 3 of 73
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    Interesting development.
  • Reply 4 of 73
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,653member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    It should also be noted that the FTC would not go so far as to bar Google, or any company for that matter, from seeking injunctions based on SEP's in all cases. If a company is deemed to be an unwilling licensee the FTC may not object to an injunction as a cure. In addition a company, for instance Apple, may be be required to commit to binding arbitration if they are unable to reach agreement with the patent holder on an appropriate royalty or risk being deemed as an unwilling licensee, at least as I read it. That's something Apple has found unacceptable so far. Too, the FTC did not find Google had done anything wrong with regard to SEP's so far. 



     


    More of your usual spin nonsense. The problem has always been that Google, et al. haven't been offering FRAND licenses and/or that they've been attempting to double dip. If you have any cases where Apple refused actual FRAND licensing, or refused licensing where it wasn't a case of double dipping, please cite them. Otherwise, stop spreading misinformation.

  • Reply 5 of 73
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,653member


    It should be noted that as part of this deal, Google also had to agree to stop stealing content from other web sites, including Yelp.

  • Reply 6 of 73
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,870member
    So the FTC made Google pinky-swear it won't abuse SEP and steal content from other sites.

    Sounds reasonable. /s
  • Reply 7 of 73
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    ...Google be sued via antitrust law over FRAND patnet abuse...


     


    The "FRAND patnet", sounds like one of those underground parts of the Internet that pirates and hackers use.


     


    Gonna go check the patnet.

  • Reply 8 of 73
    patsupatsu Posts: 430member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    It should also be noted that the FTC would not go so far as to bar Google, or any company for that matter, from seeking injunctions based on SEP's in all cases. If a company is deemed to be an unwilling licensee the FTC may not object to an injunction as a cure. In addition a company, for instance Apple, may be be required to commit to binding arbitration if they are unable to reach agreement with the patent holder on an appropriate royalty or risk being deemed as an unwilling licensee, at least as I read it. That's something Apple has found unacceptable so far. Too, the FTC did not find Google had done anything wrong with regard to SEP's so far. 

    Overall it's sounds like a fair resolution IMO, and the proper way to go forward.
    https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/1210120/130103googlemotorolado.pdf
    http://www.fosspatents.com/2012/11/googles-motorola-says-it-wants-binding.html

    EDIT: I suspect Microsoft is fuming.

    Apple is just a victim here. Google was asking for unreasonable, discriminated terms, and injunction based on SEP patents. Of course Google is guilty of abusing SEP patents. That's what triggered FTC to escalate the antitrust probe. Like Samsung, Google dropped their Motorola suit quickly after they found out that the authorities were after them. The difference is EU presses on to make sure Samsung pay for their abuses. FTC stops probing and decides not to fine Google after the latter dropped their Motorola injunction.

    Whether it's a fair resolution remains to be seen. Google should not have acquired Motorola to abuse the SEP patents in the first place. Looks like Apple is the winner here. Good to see Google stopped from stealing vertical content too.

    Apple is fairer here. They work with the verticals to build a viable content and commerce hub rather than stealing and replicating their contents.

    Also good to see that Google can't force manufacturers from mixing and matching Android stuff with other services. Skyhook should be happier here. If Android is truly open source, Samsung and Apple should be able to cherry pick stuff to include in their OSes, and also contribute back like WebKit.
  • Reply 9 of 73
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member


    deleted

  • Reply 10 of 73
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,653member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by hill60 View Post


     


    The "FRAND patnet", sounds like one of those underground parts of the Internet that pirates and hackers use.


     


    Gonna go check the patnet.



     


    I think it's for mashers.

  • Reply 11 of 73
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    It should also be noted that the FTC would not go so far as to bar Google, or any company for that matter, from seeking injunctions based on SEP's in all cases. If a company is deemed to be an unwilling licensee the FTC may not object to an injunction as a cure. In addition a company, for instance Apple, may be be required to commit to binding arbitration if they are unable to reach agreement with the patent holder on an appropriate royalty or risk being deemed as an unwilling licensee, at least as I read it. That's something Apple has found unacceptable so far. Too, the FTC did not find Google had done anything wrong with regard to SEP's so far. 


     


    Overall it's sounds like a fair resolution IMO, and the proper way to go forward.


    https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/1210120/130103googlemotorolado.pdf


    http://www.fosspatents.com/2012/11/googles-motorola-says-it-wants-binding.html


     


    EDIT: I suspect Microsoft is fuming.



     


    It should be noted that Google had to be told to act this way, by not doing so voluntarily it shows what a pack of hypocritical, lying scumbags these guys are.

  • Reply 12 of 73
    patsupatsu Posts: 430member


    Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

    I love how AI can make a headline out of one corner of the case, and miss the bigger antitrust issue - here's how the outside world reported this: [links omitted]


     


    That's because they are talking mainly about the search and self-promotion abuse, not the SEP abuse. Google were forced to drop their SEP abuse, hence the settlement. If Google were not guilty, they don't have to strike any agreement. They would have walked away without any arrangement.



    The arrangement also frees Android somewhat. Before the settlement, Android has always been "it's open when Google say so" open source. Now at least the manufacturers can partner with other services more freely.



    The "no stealing from verticals" part should be pretty huge for people like Yelp too.

  • Reply 13 of 73
    In other words, Google agreed to follow the law... Wow. Jobs was right, the 'do no evil' slogan is bull...
  • Reply 14 of 73
    patsu wrote: »
    That's because they are talking mainly about the search and self-promotion abuse, not the SEP abuse. Google were forced to drop their SEP abuse, hence the settlement. If Google were not guilty, they don't have to strike any agreement. They would have walked away without any arrangement.
    The arrangement also frees Android somewhat. Before the settlement, Android has always been "it's open when Google say so" open source. Now at least the manufacturers can partner with other services more freely.
    The "no stealing from verticals" part should be pretty huge for people like Yelp too.
    Of course, what would you expect from Macrulez? Just another typical post.
  • Reply 15 of 73
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post



    Huh. All it took was the FTC watchdogging to ensure that google was not being evil.

    Imagine that.


     


    Well to be fair it took the FTC to *stop* Google from *continuing* to be evil.  They were definitely evil, they just got spanked is all.  


     


    Of course this means that the money they spent on Motorola might just as well have been flushed down the toilet. So they are still looking like idiots, but we all knew they didn't have any business sense in the first place so it's kind of a wash I suppose. 

  • Reply 16 of 73
    macrulez wrote: »
    I love how AI can make a headline out of one corner of the case, and miss the bigger antitrust issue - here's how the outside world reported this:

    (links omitted) 

    Did you miss the "ending FTC's antitrust investigation" part of the headline? I'm not one to defend AI's click bait headlines, but I don't think they missed the "bigger antitrust issue" in this one.
  • Reply 17 of 73
    patsupatsu Posts: 430member
    FTC has no teeth. They should have slapped a fee on Google for past violation like EU do with Samsung too. Otherwise big companies can always use SEP for intimidation, like what Samsung is doing now. Samsung can still walk away unscathed since FTC doesn't fine for prior offense here. They can drop their case during settlement with no downside or lesson learned.
  • Reply 18 of 73
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member


    deleted

  • Reply 19 of 73
    patsupatsu Posts: 430member


    Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

    Is that how settlement works?



    Good thing Apple never violates laws or infringes on patents.



    Oh, wait - what does AppleInsider have to say about this: [links omitted]


    Most of these are commercial settlements, like HTC and Apple settle out of court for mutual benefits. Not for violation of law. Apple probably get sued every week for patent violation because everyone is trying to milk or fight them. Some on the list are due to manufacturing defects, which is unfortunately h/w business risks.



    The price fixing antitrust investigation is indeed on Apple and publishers. That's why they decided to settle for a quick exit and move on.



    The anti-poaching one involves Google, Intel, Apple and other large companies. Again they decided to stop the practice.



    In Google's antitrust suit, saying they won or are not guilty is not true. They simply took a quick exit to prevent a long drawn SEP abuse fight that will end up with them losing. The search monopoly claim is harder to prove but they were indeed on the wrong for stealing verticals' content.



    I suspect people have a bad taste because Google publicize "Do no evil" but don't really follow it. Remember they were also fined for bypassing the Do-not-track user policies for $22+ millions ? If you dig around, you will find other Google misdeeds.



    At least the other companies are honest about making money.

  • Reply 20 of 73
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,653member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post


    Is that how settlement works?


     



     


    Give it up, dude. Apple's never violated the law, systematically, and often criminally as Google has repeatedly. You can list all the headlines you want but it doesn't change the fact that Google is a criminal enterprise that ought to be charged under RICO.

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