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U.S. Approves Google’s Purchase of Motorola, Apple’s Purchase of Nortel Patents

by Killian Bell | February 14, 2012February 14, 2012 4:00 am PST

Google Motorola

Less than a day after the European Commission approved Google’s bid to purchase Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, the United States Department of Justice has also given the deal a thumbs-up.

The deal will provide Google with 17,000 Motorola patents and 7,500 patent applications. However, both the European Commission and the U.S. Justice Department have vowed to keep a close eye on the company to ensure the patents that are critical to the telecom industry are licensed at a fair price.

Bloomberg reports:

Antitrust enforcers on both sides of the Atlantic want to prevent companies from gouging rivals when they license patents essential to ensuring different firms’ communications devices work together.

“This merger decision should not and will not mean that we are not concerned by the possibility that, once Google is the owner of this portfolio, Google can abuse these patents, linking some patents with its Android devices. This is our worry,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters in Brussels.

An Apple-led consortium’s bid to secure a wealth of 6,000 patents from the bankrupt Nortel Networks for $4.5 billion was also given the go-ahead by the U.S. Justice Department. However, it seems there is more concern that Google’s patents will be abused that those acquired by Apple:

The U.S. Justice Department said it was reassured by Apple’s and Microsoft’s public statements that they would not seek injunctions in filing infringement lawsuits based on the Nortel patents.

“Google’s commitments have been less clear,” the Justice Department added in a statement. “The division determined that the acquisition of the patents by Google did not substantially lessen competition, but how Google may exercise its patents in the future remains a significant concern.”

While this “significant concern” is not enough to block the move, there’s no doubt that regulators will keep a close eye on Google’s buyout. In a statement on its website, the Justice Department stated that it “will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action to stop any anticompetitive use of SEP rights.”

Google still needs approval from China,¬†Israel, and Taiwan to complete its buyout of Motorola Mobility, so the deal isn’t quite concrete just yet.

Do you think Google will attempt to use its patents for evil, or is this “significant concern” just¬†unnecessary?

[via Bloomberg]


Killian Bell

Killian Bell is a 20-something technology journalist based in a tiny town in England. He has an obsession with that little company in Cupertino...

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