updated 06:18 am EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
Approval from Chinese Ministry of Commerce brings purchase closer to completion
The acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services arm by Microsoft has been given the green light by Chinese authorities, both companies have revealed. The approval by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) brings the $7.2 billion purchase one step closer to completion, and brings the total number of markets approving the deal to 16.
Microsoft's blog post about the approval notes that MOFCOM based its decision on a set of commitments Microsoft will undertake for a period of eight years. The commitments themselves relate to patents and patent licensing, specifically its dealings with standard-essential patents and FRAND-related issues, an important topic given the number of patent lawsuits taking place in recent years.
The blog post from David Howard, Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Litigation and Antitrust at Microsoft, notes an important principle in the discussions was that any commitments must focus on how future conduct of the company may change after the acquisition, and that it should not impact existing signed licenses. "It has never been our intent to change our practices after we acquire the Nokia business, so while we disagreed with the premise that our incentives might change in the future, we are happy to discuss commitments on this basis," writes Howard.
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Nokia touches on the process of reviewing its patent licensing practices in its own statement. "During that process, no authority has challenged Nokia's compliance with its FRAND undertakings related to standard-essential patents (licensing on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms) or requested that Nokia make changes to its licensing program or royalty terms," reads the notice.
The acquisition is still expected to close sometime this month.