updated 04:13 pm EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
Google dodges fines again, sees increased supervision of licensing
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved a modified final order, settling charges that Google's Motorola Mobility refused to license standards-essential patents (SEPs) on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The deal is not terribly restrictive, nor bears any financial penalty for the search engine giant, but will subject Motorola Mobility to additional federal scrutiny for a decade.
The agreement codifies for all parties who declares which patents are standards-essential, and mandates that Google abide by FRAND terms in the future. It also mandates that Google "cease and desist from directly or indirectly making any future claims for covered injunctive relief based on alleged infringement of a FRAND patent" unless the company using the patent testifies that it will not license the patent, is outside the US, or is in clear violation and an unwilling licensee, as determined by arbitration, not by Google or Motorola Mobile. The order is retroactive, prohibiting Google from obtaining or enforcing injunctive relief before the order was accepted for public comment as well.
Furthermore, in a series of graduated responses, Google will have to submit to arbitration for fair license fees, if a licensor and Motorola Mobile do not agree on terms. Google and Motorola Mobile must also annually submit documentation to the FTC that "intends to comply, is complying, and has complied" with all conditions of the order, including a description of all pending claims before the court for its FRAND-eligible patents.
Motorola was on the losing end of statements given to the ITC by industry magnates in support of both Apple and Microsoft's use of Motorola's standards-essential patents. As a result of the 2.25 percent request and other issues, both Motorola and parent company Google were under investigation by the FTC for FRAND patent abuse, with a light reprimand issued to parent company Google.