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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 TSS on 11/3/2012 10:11:17 AM , Rating: 2
I might be off here, but i think the US is going to do what the EU has been doing for a while now with microsoft. Sue for money to keep the budget/economy going.

Just think about this. Apple's now 20% of the NASDAQ or something like that. The government has been trying to inflate stocks for 4 years now (or much longer depending on how you look at it). And the recent rally in apple is pretty much the sole reason why tech stocks went up. When Apple drops, the market drops, and Apple's dropped from their highs of $700 in mid september to $573 now.

Suddenly, the government who hasn't done anything about the entire conflict at all, decides to openly go after their main competitor. Or atleast announce that they will, since the trading algo's react on news alone. Doesn't mean they actually have to do anything about it.

RE: Wow
By Reclaimer77 on 11/3/2012 5:15:12 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting theory, but if you applied every single dollar Apple and Google is worth, combined, it wouldn't even make a dent in our deficits. Let alone our national debt.

RE: Wow
By Jeffk464 on 11/4/2012 8:46:26 PM , Rating: 2
wow, thats a scary thought

RE: Wow
By NellyFromMA on 11/5/2012 10:02:42 AM , Rating: 2
Lol that wouldn't make much sense for a US court to g oa fter a US company. It would only make sense when the entity trying to collect is sovereign from the entity it's trying to collect from. Otherwise, its like shooting itself in the foot when collateral damage settles in (think stocks and the like)

"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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