Feeds

EC: Motorola abused its patents in Apple iPhone spat

Injunctions violated EU antitrust rules

Top three mobile application threats

Google's Motorola Mobility division was dealt another blow in Europe on Monday, when the European Commission (EC) informed the company that its use of standard-essential patents (SEPs) likely constitutes a violation of EU antitrust rules.

The preliminary decision comes following two yearlong investigations launched in April 2012 at the behest of Apple and Microsoft, each of which claimed that Motorola had reneged on commitments to license its SEPs under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

Specifically, the EC says it believes that Motorola having sought and enforced an injunction against Apple based on its mobile phone–related SEPs "amounts to an abuse of a dominant position."

"The protection of intellectual property is a cornerstone of innovation and growth," EC competition policy veep Joaquín Almunia said in a canned statement on Monday. "But so is competition. I think that companies should spend their time innovating and competing on the merits of the products they offer – not misusing their intellectual property rights to hold up competitors to the detriment of innovation and consumer choice."

The EC isn't alone in its criticism of Motorola's tactics. In March, a group of economists with the Competition Policy International think-tank issued a paper urging standards-setting bodies to curb the use of injunctions and require members to settle disputes out of court (or at least try).

"The expensive nature of litigation creates frictions in the market for ideas, is a high transaction cost for licensees, and renders this market less accessible for smaller firms," the econ-thinkers wrote.

In its Statement of Objections issued on Monday, the EC stated its view that "dominant" SEP holders such as Motorola Mobility "should not have recourse to injunctions," arguing that such practice could ultimately hurt consumers.

Monday's ruling is just the latest setback for Motorola in Europe. In addition to the two separate antitrust investigations – one for Apple and one for Microsoft – in March of last year, a German court found that Motorola had itself infringed on Microsoft's patents.

Meanwhile, courts around the world are growing increasingly tired of seeing Motorola and other mobile tech companies in their docks. In April, a US district court judge scolded Apple and Motorola for their "obstreperous and cantankerous conduct," saying that they were improperly using the courts as a business strategy.

In Motorola's case, it appears at least part of that strategy may have actually violated EU trade rules. But before that decision becomes final, Motorola has the opportunity to answer the EC's criticisms in writing and to request an oral hearing to make its case.

If Motorola fails to convince the Commission, however, the consequences could be severe. Under EC law, if Motorola is found to have infringed, it can be slapped with a fine equal to up to 10 per cent of its worldwide annual revenue. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.