U.S. Gov't Reportedly on the Verge of Suing Google Over Smartphone Patents
November 2, 2012 8:00 PM
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In addition to being attacked by rivals, Google may now face the wrath of the U.S. government
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,
Google has been indirectly sued
, Inc. (
), 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.
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.
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
, "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.
2011 grilling by the U.S. Senate
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
resulted in Google
paying a settlement of $500M USD
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11/3/2012 12:32:58 PM
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.)
11/5/2012 10:30:38 AM
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.
"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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