updated 07:25 pm EDT, Mon March 12, 2012
Motorola wanted complete access for Apple truce
The European Commission has posted details (PDF) of its approval of Google buying Motorola that may have uncovered an attempt to create a mostly one-sided licensing deal. Negotiations in late 2011 to reach a settlement had reportedly seen Motorola demand that Apple provide licensing for its entire non-standard patent collection just to get licenses for Motorola's 3G standards patents. Motorola had been aiming for a cross-licensing deal that would help all Android makers with the knowledge that Google's takeover might be approved.
An earlier portion of the document had suggested talks centered around "carve-outs" on both sides, but Apple had said that Motorola wanted unconditional access. EU officials approved Google's merger with Motorola in spite of this, noting that the "allegedly anti-competitive behaviour" on Motorola's part had begun before the merger started.
The Commission portrayal would suggest that Apple had offered to make a deal that could potentially have ended many Android-related lawsuits. Motorola's insistence on getting cross-license deals even for Apple's most important patents behind the iPhone and iOS, however, may have cost Android as a whole. Apple is known to have made offers to Motorola and Samsung and, through the EC publication, is known to consider royalties and bans less important than simply protecting the parts it believes are truly unique.
Reasonableness for Motorola's demands might depend on just what Apple had intended to exclude and what it would do with those exempted patents. If it had intended to exclude many of the patents being used in existing lawsuits, a cross-licensing deal wouldn't have been useful in ending the worldwide disputes. If Apple had included these in a peace offer and been shot down, however, it would risk overreaching on Motorola's part and create a ripple effect for HTC, Samsung, and others. [via Florian Mueller]