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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





“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls






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