Summary: Google gets a go-ahead for acquisition of Motorola patents, which will help deter against anti-Android lawsuits (except by proxy)
The US Department of Justice and European Commission have okayed Google’s planned $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Now the two have to work together — and fast — to bbring Android 4.0 to Motorola’s Xoom and XyBoard and whatever other Android tablet platform that can grab some share against Apple’s iPad.
Apple’s Android nightmare: Google’s Motorola purchase gets EU OK
Apple has been doing its best to beat the snot out of Android in the courts with intellectual property lawsuits. Now, with Google purchase of Motorola Mobility, Android’s maker will have the patents it needs to retaliate.
The FSFE has meanwhile issued a statement to say: “Nortel/Rockstar, Google/Motorola deals create balance of terror on software patents”. To quote:
On Monday, the US Department of Justice approved the sale of Nortel’s patent portfolio to a consortium led by Apple and Microsoft. At the same time, the DOJ and the European Commission allowed Google to buy Motorola Mobility, thus giving the search company a sizable patent portfolio.
“We appreciate that competition authorities in the US and Europe continue to take software patents seriously as a risk to competition,” says Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe. “However, we believe that the commitments made by Google, Microsoft and Apple regarding their patent licensing policies are not sufficient to allow everyone to compete on equal terms.”
The terms of those commitments do nothing to ensure that the software patents in the portfolios in question can be implemented in Free Software.
While Microsoft has said that it will not seek injunctions against companies using its standard-essential patents, this policy merely restates the commitments Microsoft has already made to standards organisations. Microsoft will only license its patents on so-called “RAND” terms (short for “reasonable and non-discriminatory”). These typically require the company that implements the patents to pay a licensing fee per unit.
It is always sad when competition boils down to legal disputes and deterrence. It’s an unhealthy atmosphere. The ideal solution would hammer down the patent system. █