Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) hopes Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) proposed $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) will help calm the rapid-fire patent litigation in the smartphone arena. However, the company did not explicitly endorse the deal.
"We will be looking with interest as further details of the proposed transaction become clear," John Thorne, Verizon's senior vice president and deputy general counsel, told the Wall Street Journal. "But, at first glance, to the extent that this deal might bring some stability to the ongoing smartphone patent disputes, that would be a welcome development."
The comments are notable for several reasons, chief among them that no other U.S. carrier has publicly commented on the deal, which was announced Monday. The other notable reason is that Verizon Wireless, in which Verizon Communications holds a 55 percent stake, has been one of the biggest boosters of Google's Android platform--Verizon helped kickstart Android's mass-market appeal with its massive campaign for the original Motorola Droid, and the carrier continues to be Motorola's largest U.S. carrier partner. However, Motorola has begun to diversify its carrier lineup and is partnering with Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) on 10 devices this year.
Google has said its move to purchase Motorola will help protect the Android ecosystem from patent litigation, though it is unclear how the deal will affect ongoing lawsuits Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) have filed against Android licensees. Additionally, Oracle's lawsuit against Google over Android's alleged copying of Java code is not likely to be affected immediately by the Motorola deal.
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
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