Europe opens antitrust cases against Motorola

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.

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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.

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

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23 comments
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  • silly

    This is silly. Where is Nokia? Nokia had a stranglehold on the European market for smartphones for years and they aren't involved in this litigation. Either they didn't care or they didn't find a problem. So Apple and MS have a problem with Moto. Let's have antitrust litigation now.
    hoaxoner
    • Maybe Nokia never did anything illegal?

      And yeah when to major competitors who have a long history of so NOT liking one another come together and complain about another it does tend to get attention.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • My point

        Antitrust implies a restriction of trade by a monopolistic entity. Where was the monopoly that Motorola had? My point was, that if Motorola were engaging in antitrust activities, Nokia would probably have been upset a number of years ago. That didn't happen.
        hoaxoner
      • Perhaps Moto charged a reasonable fee for their patents to Nokia?

        hoaxoner
        Also to others but choose for it's own "competitive" or anti competitive reasons to charge Apple and MS more far more in fact. That alone is a kind of conspicuous trail or follow the money kind of thing.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
    • Errr....

      I don't think Nokia had much stronghold anywhere when it came to smartphones. While they were a dominant phone maker at the beginning, they've dropped like RIM.
      Gisabun
      • Not correct!!!

        As it relates to patents, both essential and non-essential, Nokia is a behemoth owning thousands of patents.
        jhammackHTH
  • Hard bargaining

    Microsoft is complaining about "hard bargaining" tactics? Didn't a US ITC judge say that hard bargaining tactics do not constitute misuse of patents?
    BorgX
    • Not a US case.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
  • this investigation is outrageous

    The EC should stop this investigation instigated by legal goons from M$ and Apple and start investigating the real evil that is the enemies of FOSS.
    M$ and apple must pony up the money for Motorola's exceptional IP and withdraw their baseless lawsuits against android!
    The Linux Geek
    • By Motorola's exceptional IP...

      ...I presume you mean the standards-essential patents which are subject to Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatroy obligations.

      It is their refusal to comply with this that's landed them in hot water in Europe.

      Their other patents are so weak, they couldn't defend themselves from multiple litigations before the Google acquisition and they won't defend them after.
      Englishmole
      • they are exceptional

        because they are essential and the other way around too. M$ patents are garbage hence not 'essential'.
        The Linux Geek
      • So by claiming they are "essential" you kind of make

        The Linux Geek
        the case for Apple and MS. Thank you. For it would be anti competitive to charge more than industry standard for these "essential" patents to ones competitors most especially if said patent were lesser to others. Again thank you.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
    • Errr

      @The Linux Geek : Twit. Anti-biased as usual. Grow up.
      Gisabun
  • Ha

    The linux geek is pathetic....

    Motorola want 2.5% for their part of the H.264 codec or w/e it is, of which the only own a small percentage of the actual patents. H.264 pool represents 1,135 patents from 26 companies in 44 countries. 3 of those 26 companies are MS, Apple and Google.. MS and Apple have both said if they other people who owned the patents to the rest of this FRAND they would have to shell out around 50% of the profits which is stupid.

    For you to come out and say that Motorolas patents are valuable and Apple's / MS are rubbish when the patents in question are all part of the same pool with Apple and MS contributing just shows you are a fanboy with the IQ of a goldfish.

    MS and Apple patent their patents on this pool for less than a cent each. Motorola is after $2.50. That is why they are now under investigation....

    Grow up.
    danjames2012
    • Please don't be disrespectful to goldfish !!!

      Please don't be disrespectful to goldfish !!!
      1773
    • M$ and apple lost the entitlement

      to low cost license fees when they unjustly sued Motorola. Now FRAND no longer applies and they have to pay the piper! That's the contract and the German law endorses it.
      The Linux Geek
      • The German court does not speak for the entire

        European Union and it was not an anti trust case now it is.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Oh ya

        Where did this info come from? Someone in the small bit in your head that contains a brain? When did it happen? Show a link to prove this is true and not your usual rubbish that you spit out.
        Gisabun
      • Oh boy!

        You are an idiot of epic proportions. It doesn't matter whether Microsoft or Apple sued Motorola. FRAND patents are required by law to be offered for license under fair and reasonable terms. 4 billion dollars a year for FRAND patents is one of the most laughable things ever. Microsoft pays 29 other companies 6 million per year for over 2300 FRAND patents. How is 4 billion per year reasonable for 50 FRAND patents.

        The German court hasn't endorsed anything with respect to this case you assclown, and no, Microsoft and Apple did not lose low cost licenses. FRAND still applies you idiot, and it always will.

        Can someone please take this douche nozzle out of his misery so we no longer have to wade through inane and insipid fanboy garbage?
        jhammackHTH
    • Actually....

      There are over 2300 FRAND patents relating to this area, from 29 companies, and Microsoft only pays these companies 6+ million per year for these 2300 patents. Motorola wants 4 billion per year for 50 patents.
      jhammackHTH