Google to stop using patents as weapons as part of FTC settlement

Tools

As part of its settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) agreed to stop seeking sales bans on products that infringe on the standards-essential patents it owns.

"We are especially glad to see that Google will live up to its commitments to license its standard-essential patents, which will ensure that companies willing to license these patents can compete in the market for wireless devices,"  FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. "This decision strengthens the standard-setting process that is at the heart of innovation in today's technology markets."

The settlement between Google and the FTC is the result of a 20-month antitrust investigation by the FTC into Google's business practices. The FTC concluded Google was not harming the Internet search market through its practices. Part of the investigation revolved around Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, and Google's use of Motorola's patents. In essence, the FTC found Google guilty of abusing its patents for wireless standards, which are supposed to be licensed at reasonable royalty rates to others. As part of the settlement, Google agreed to license its standards patents on FRAND, or fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory, terms.

The settlement could have a significant impact on the ongoing patent battles between Google and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) in federal courts and before the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Microsoft, for its part, blasted the FTC's agreement as "weak" and "unusual." In a company blog post, Microsoft's vice president and deputy general counsel, Dave Heiner, wrote that Google did not live up to its promises to license standards patents on FRAND terms and that the FTC agreement contains numerous loopholes for Google. 

After acquiring Motorola, the search giant pared down Motorola's handset manufacturing business and cut more than 4,000 jobs in the process.

Meanwhile, Google has put up for sale Motorola's 1.1 million-square-foot headquarters in Libertyville, Ill. No sale price has been set, according to the Chicago Tribune, but the report noted that the campus could fetch $60 million. Google said last year it will move Motorola's headquarters to the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago this year.

For more:
- see this FTC post
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this The Verge article
- see this GigaOM article
- see this ZDNet article
- see this Chicago Tribune article

Related Articles:
Year in review 2012: Apple, Samsung battle over patents as other disputes flare
Google reportedly faces broader probe over use of Motorola patents
Arris to buy Motorola Mobility home division for $2.35B from Google
Google to axe 4,000 Motorola jobs in restructuring
Google: Motorola's patents worth $5.5B