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03 April 2012, 14:59

Motorola under antitrust investigation by the European Commission

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The European Commission has opened formal investigations into Motorola Mobility's patent licensing practices. Antitrust investigators have been asked to assess whether Motorola has broken "fair reasonable and non-discriminatory"(FRAND) licensing commitments to distort competition within the European market. The EU guidelines for standard setting organisations say that when patents are essential to a standards, those patents should be licensed under FRAND rules. This includes standards for 2G, 3G and WiFi technologies as well as video compression standards such as H.264.

Apple and Microsoft had filed complaints with the Commission in February, alleging that Motorola was misusing its patents by licensing them under unfair conditions or not making them available under FRAND terms. Google had acquired Motorola Mobility in August, and even though the EU blessed the deal, the Commission had already expressed some concerns over Motorola's management of patents back then.

According to the Commission, it will investigate whether "by seeking and enforcing injunctions against Apple's and Microsoft's flagship products such as iPhone, iPad, Windows and Xbox on the basis of patents it had declared essential to produce standard-compliant products" Motorola has abused a dominant market position in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU).

In January, the Commission began formal proceedings against Samsung to investigate whether it too had failed to honour its FRAND commitments to standards bodies. Motorola, Microsoft, Apple and Samsung are involved in a number of patent infringement cases across Europe.


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