Apple files EU antitrust complaint over Motorola patents

Apple files EU antitrust complaint over Motorola patents

Summary: Apple has asked European antitrust regulators to settle a dispute over patents. A formal antitrust investigation could be looming over Motorola.

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Only a week since Motorola was given the go-ahead by the European competition authorities to be acquired by Google for $12.5 billion, its sister authority for antitrust matters has been asked by Apple to look into Motorola Mobility for abuse of its patent position.

Apple sent a letter to the European Commission accusing Motorola of violating a promise to licence essential industry-standard patents on fair and reasonable terms.

Also known as FRAND terms, it requires companies with patents to license them out under conditions which do not harm competition, or could be seen as extortionate or too expensive for rival firms.

It was discovered in Motorola's annual report, a 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. As the letter was received by Motorola on Friday, it shows that the company only just heard about it.

Explained at the end of page 37:

"On February 17, 2012, the Company received a letter from the European Commission, Competition Directorate-General, (the “Commission”) notifying it that the Commission has received a complaint against Motorola Mobility, Inc. (“MMI”) by Apple, Inc. (“Apple”) regarding the enforcement of MMI’s standards-essential patents against Apple allegedly in breach of MMI’s FRAND commitments.

Apple’s complaint seeks the Commission’s intervention with respect to standards-essential patents."

As sister site CNET nicely puts it: "Apple wants to be left alone."

Apple and Motorola have been engaging with tit-for-tat patent battles for months. Apple has, however, found luck in seeking the help from authorities in relation to its patent disputes. Samsung is already under investigation by European authorities for its handling of patent licensing. If Apple succeeds a second time, Motorola could face a formal antitrust investigation.

The European Commission, which oversees competition and antitrust matters across 27 European member states, can fine companies up to 10 percent of its global annual turnover should it be found to be flaunting Europe's rules.

Image source: Ashleigh Ozment/Flickr

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Topics: Enterprise Software, Apple, Legal, Mobility, Security

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12 comments
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  • RE: Apple files EU antitrust complaint over Motorola patents

    So is Apple finally ready to license the patents that it has been using in the iPhones? If I remember correctly, Apple had previously complained that it was unable to license the technology(ies) to make phones from Motorola at the same rates that others had paid, and so just used the patented tech without actually bothering to license same.

    Or is it that Apple is simply reiterating that its use of the patents in the future is fair because they are already using the patents in current products?
    Letophoro
    • RE: Apple files EU antitrust complaint over Motorola patents

      @Letophoro

      You seem to miss understand the position.

      If I wish to make a smartphone it doesn't have to be a touch screen thats the fashion, where apples patents are (I'll leave validity alone) and aren't covered by FRAND or monopolies legislation

      If you wish to make a 3G (industry standard) phone you have to license patents from motorola and thats covered under FRAND and monopolies legislation

      Bottom line Motorola, Apple or any other company have to license patents relating to industry standards due to FRAND
      the.nameless.drifter
      • That's what I was pointing out.

        Apple used the patents without paying because they claim that Motorola was charging them more than others who actually licensed the technologies used in the industry standards.
        Letophoro
    • RE: Apple files EU antitrust complaint over Motorola patents

      @Letophoro So who will file an EU anti-trust complaint about Apple, not allowing any other browser "engine" than internal one... or why Safari is bundled by default...

      And if Apple needs to be left alone, why does it consistently files court suits against all its competitors around the world...

      Apple's cry like "Leave Britney Alone!!" , nothing more...
      AmediaN
      • I have to side with Apple on some of those issues.

        It's Apple's phone and they can determine what is or is not allowed to run on those phones. At least until the owners of the devices choose to jailbreak their phones.

        As far as most of Apple's suits, they boil down to software implementations which I believe should not be patented nor should they be patentable. If patents are granted, they should be applicable only to the Apple branded phones.
        Letophoro
  • RE: Apple files EU antitrust complaint over Motorola patents

    If apple was concerned about being left alone, they'd keep their trap shut, mind their own business and go make some new products instead of just updating the same old thing and expect no one to make a similar product after 5 years. New as in BRAND NEW not new as is updated graphics and shape. What I just don't get is why has no one brought up anti-trust lawsuits against apple? You can't run OSX unless you buy an actual mac, regardless if its the same hardware as a $800 windows computer. Essentially it is a *nix OS and linux runs just fine on both platforms. You can run windows on a Mac but you cant run OSX on a Windows pc with the exact same hardware (UEFI only realistically). Apple got a version of our Office and a few of our Apps while we got itunes and quicktime. You cant really do anything about backup/syncing your idevice without itunes. Apple stole Wifi Sync from Greg Hughes and the pull down status bar from android but they complain about our slide to unlock. You cant buy a new case for you iphone without fear of them being shutdown/sued out of business by apple immediately. Apple made the iphone 5 years ago then a bigger version that the UI still just doesn't feel or look right. For apple to even go after phone manufacturers is just plain stupidity. These companies make hundred if not thousands of products and here we are with apple and 6 products. Several of which are just bigger versions on their cousins (touch's became ipads without cdma, iphones became ones ipads with cdma). The list really keeps going. Apple throwing around lawsuits like TP at a frat party and so far mac users opinions of apple in our city have dropped in the last year. They still like the products just not the company behind them now. Luke, the Koolaid is strong with this one...
    Nate_K
    • Curious here. You speak for an entire city?

      @Nate_K ... What is this cities population and what kind of area are we talking about? I mean I can cover Waterville, ME from start to finish in a short walk. Some cities however cover many miles and have hundred if not millions of people... Heck even in Waterville, ME as small as it is has a lot of people I don't know or talk to so I could not talk for the city/town of Waterville. Which brings me to my last question. How many people in this city of yours did you actually talk to about this subject? Seriously I want too know:)<br><br>Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • RE: Apple files EU antitrust complaint over Motorola patents

      @Nate_K

      My goodness: "our Office," "our Apps," "our slide to unlock."

      Taking this all rather personally, aren't we?

      By the way, look up "standards essential patent", and "free, reasonable and non-discriminatory."
      msalzberg
  • RE: Apple files EU antitrust complaint over Motorola patents

    What you really mean is that some of Apple's money has found its way into certain legal figures hands over in Europe.
    slickjim
    • Ah yes the "I have no actual argument so

      @Peter Perry ...I'll make something up entirely" trick. yeah seen it done before. However to be fair I want you to show any and all evidence you have to support such a claim and if it be fact based I will of course apologize for my error. Will you do the same if you have nothing to prove me statement wrong?

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • RE: Apple files EU antitrust complaint over Motorola patents

      @Peter Perry

      If you've found proof of a crime, you should pass it on to the authorities.

      Bribing of foreign officials is actually a Federal crime: Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) (15 U.S.C. ???? 78dd-1). Many US firms have run afoul of this law, from Lockheed to Chiquita. Currently News Corp may find itself in US legal hot water over it's eavesdropping scandal, in which British officials were reportedly bribed.

      Let us know what results from your reporting of this crime.
      msalzberg
  • FRAND only applies to Patents that are part of a standard.. 3G, LTE etc..

    To ensure wide acceptance, interoperability, reasonable cost etc.. Everyone including consumers win when FRAND is honored.. Moto and Samsung are messing things up by abusing these terms that they agreed to hounor and have gained a lot from already.. They need to put back in their place.. Apple's patents it is protecting are not part of standards so they don't reap the benefits and are not restricted by the obligations... They are trying to have their cake and eating it too.. as well they are trying to double dip.. license to chip makers and then license to Apple on top of that which of course is not allowed under patent law... It's called parent exhaustion.. If it wasn't there Moto could also sue all of us for using the tech as well..

    Bottom line.. These guys are weak and desperate... now they are getting investigated for anti-trust.. Add not too smart to list...
    theFunkDoctorSpoc