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In addition to being attacked by rivals, Google may now face the wrath of the U.S. government

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reportedly authored a report suggesting that the U.S. Department of Justice sue Google over its use of smartphone patents in litigation, according to Reuters.

Google has been indirectly sued by Apple, Inc. (AAPL) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), via its subsidiary Motorola Mobility.  Those companies assert Google has stolen their patented technologies.

The Android operating system maker has responded by leveling similar accusations against Apple and Microsoft and suing both of them.  The issue, according the the FTC, is that most of Google's patents (via subsidiary Motorola Mobility) were wireless and video codec patents developed as part of industry standards.  Certain laws and regulations exist that typically prevent such patents -- known as "fair reasonable and non-discriminatory" (FRAND) patents -- from being used in litigation.

In other words, Google may want to defend itself with those patents, but in doing so it may be breaking U.S. laws.

After months of investigation, the formal decision of the five-member government panel will likely land before the end of the year; FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz promised that back in September.  The possible outcomes include dropping the case, negotiating a settlement with Google, or suing Google -- as the new staff report allegedly suggests.

FRAND patents are for friends
The U.S. government is not pleased with Google's litigation regarding FRAND patents.
[Original Image: Cayusa/Flickr; modifications: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

Google commented to Reuters, "We take our commitments to license on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms very seriously."

As the nation's eighth largest company by market value and with dominant positions in the smartphone operating system, email, maps, and search markets, it's perhaps inevitable that Google would run afoul of antitrust regulators.  This is actually Google's second run-in with the FTC this year; in August it settled to the tune of $22.5M USD a suit regarding overriding privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser.

A 2011 grilling by the U.S. Senate and later the U.S. Food and Drug Administration resulted in Google paying a settlement of $500M USD.

Source: Reuters



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RE: Wow
By someguy123 on 11/3/2012 2:14:36 AM , Rating: 2
FRAND is the licensing agreement....if FAT fell under FRAND they would still be charging licensing fees. FAT should fall under FRAND to stop them from abusing the patent for the sake of attacking companies like google. Microsoft seems fine with licensing to everyone else but deliberately sues for damages against motorola. Google/motorola may simply not want to pay the fee altogether but I'm not sure if microsoft has made that claim.


RE: Wow
By MadMan007 on 11/3/2012 3:06:14 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe a 'licensing equality' rule is what we need. If a company is granted a legit non-FRAND patent and licenses it to one party, they must license it to all other interested parties at 'similar' terms. Then we wouldn't get b.s. like licesning to one company and suing another.


RE: Wow
By Motoman on 11/3/2012 12:03:54 PM , Rating: 3
Ummm...I believe that's what FRAND is for.


RE: Wow
By MadMan007 on 11/3/2012 12:32:58 PM , Rating: 2
Derp, no, I specifically said non-FRAND patents. The whole point is that either a technology is licensed to everyone who wants it, or to no one. Companies would have to decide whether it's worth more to keep their exclusive patent rights or whether all other companies are able to license it. That's different from now where companies can pick and choose to whom they license thus leading to stupidity like licensing to one company and then suing another for the same thing after refusing to license.

Lawsuits would then be for technology that is licensed to no other companies at all but is still infringed, or for cases where an infringing company didn't even attempt to get a license. No more lawsuits to push companies to license at least, which is a goal of a lot of patent lawsuits.

(This is just an idea, it's not perfect I'm sure, but I think I've explained the gist of it well enough.)


RE: Wow
By Motoman on 11/5/2012 10:30:38 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, you most certainly are derping.

The point being why make up a condition of a "non-FRAND" patent. If a patent needs those protections, make it FRAND.

You're like "what if there was this critter that was a cat, but we had to call it a moogle?" If it's a cat, call it a cat, and stop pretending you've come up with some deep philosophical conundrum.


RE: Wow
By NellyFromMA on 11/5/2012 10:01:14 AM , Rating: 2
You're right, my understanding is that is what FRAND is for.


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