Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility: a green light, but...
February 15th, 2012 - 02:57 am ET by C. D.
American and European regulators have both given their approval for Google to acquire Motorola Mobility, allowing the search giant to get their hands on a mobile handset manufacturer along with an impressive portfolio of patents which can be used to protect Android.
Google announced that they would acquire Motorola Mobility on the 15th of August 2011, but they have had to wait until February 2012 to get approval from American and European competition authorities for the transaction to go through – a rather prolonged period.
While Google’s activities and decisions are now closely scrutinized, as they are capable of greatly changing whole business sectors when they decide to enter markets, this acquisition was particularly followed as it would make Google both a mobile platform editor and handset manufacturer.
Regulators will continue to closely monitor Google’s decisions related to the patents that were acquired in this transaction, with these to be used to protect the Android platform in the ongoing patent war that is raging between manufacturers.
The fact that Motorola Mobility is engaged in actions against Apple by basing fundamental patents, required for technology standardization, outside the FRAND rules (Fair, Reasonable and Non Discriminatory) this has led to some regulators showing concern. European regulators have previously opened investigations against Samsung for similar motives.
Google remains under close surveillance The decision suggests that the merger between Google/Motorola Mobility won’t significantly penalise the mobile telephone market, even though the company is awaiting the decision of other regulators – particularly the Chinese.
The question of patents and their use in filing lawsuits against competitors will remain closely monitored. Google has demonstrated that they have good intentions by sending letters to the standardization organisations, promising to respect FRAND legislature, but for their competitors the risk of lawsuits hasn’t been removed.
While the American Department of Justice has congratulated Microsoft and Apple for their clear positions on this point, they have confirmed that Google was more ambiguous, warning that they would take the necessary measures if required.
This is an about face compared to the situation the company was in during the summer of 2011 when Google, who held very few patents, was complaining about the attitude of their competitors, demanding regulation be introduced. Now that the search giant finds themselves with a reinforced position, they better not find themselves as a persecutor.