Europe opens antitrust cases against Motorola

Summary:European antitrust officials said on Tuesday they will open a case against Motorola Mobility to examine whether it "abused" its dominant market position by withholding patents.

The European Union's antitrust authorities say they have opened two investigations into Motorola Mobility, after Microsoft and Apple made complaints over how the smartphone maker licenses patents.

The investigations will seek to discover whether Motorola unfairly restricted competition from accessing these patents under "fair and reasonable" terms.

The handset making arm of Motorola, which is being bought by Google for $12.5 billion, owns patents which are used by competitors to ensure cross-brand manufactured compatibility. Standard-essential patents under EU law must be licensed fairly as to not discriminate against the brand or manufacturer.

Microsoft previously complained to the European Commission saying that Motorola charged too much for patents it used in its products. Apple had also quietly complained, claiming that Motorola had gone back on its promise to license standard-essential patents fairly.

The Commission explained:

"Following complaints by Apple and Microsoft, the Commission will investigate, in particular, whether by seeking and enforcing injunctions against Apple's and Microsoft's flagship products such as iPhone, iPad, Windows and Xbox on the basis of patents it had declared essential to produce standard-compliant products, Motorola has failed to honour its irrevocable commitments made to standard setting organisations."

Europe's executive body said it will examine if Motorola's behaviour amounts to an "abuse" of a dominant market position, prohibited by Europe's competition rules. It also said it would assess the allegations made by Apple and Microsoft.

If Motorola is found in breach of European competition law, it could face fines up to 10 percent of its global annual turnover, amounting to many billions of euros.

Related:

Topics: Government : UK, Apple, Enterprise Software, Government, Legal, Microsoft, Mobility, Security

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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