Feeds

EC: Motorola abused its patents in Apple iPhone spat

Injunctions violated EU antitrust rules

Website security in corporate America

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.