Feeds

EC: Motorola abused its patents in Apple iPhone spat

Injunctions violated EU antitrust rules

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU
And hey - no need to tell the website you've de-listed. That'll make it easier ...
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.