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Google agrees to modifications to its patent lawsuit strategy, how it handles online data

After nearly two years of investigation, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) probe into internet and mobile services giant Google Inc. (GOOG) is about to wrap up, and Bloomberg is reporting that a settlement has been reached which will protect Google against possible fines.

I. Google Says it Will Change Its Ways

Importantly Google agreed to undisclosed changes in how it uses patents for mobile standards, which are licensed under so-called "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory" (FRAND) rules.  Most of Google's FRAND patents came courtesy of subsidiary Motorola Mobility, which Google acquired for $12.5B USD in a denial finalized in Feb. 2012.  

Google had hoped to use Motorola patents to defend its Android partners against Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) and Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFTaggressive litigation tactics, but those efforts proved largely unsuccessful and came under fire when it became clear that much of Motorola's portfolio were FRAND patents, which come with obligatory licensing demands.

web scraping
Among its promises, Google promises to be be more respectful of others data when web scraping. [Image Source: Google Images/unknown]

The search giant also reportedly agreed to modify other undisclosed business practices; practices that may include making modifications to make Google's search engine less prone to favoring its own internal services.  Google had balked at the idea of letting federal regulators lay their hands on its core search engine code, and ultimately regulators at the FTC appeared to respect Google's concerns, in lieu of its promised concessions.

Reportedly, Google will also modify its so-called "scraping" tactics -- the process of sending scripts to automatically mine data from various internet sites and services, some of which compete with Google.  Another promised modification, according to Bloomberg, is to make it easier for companies to export advertising data from Google's industry-leading advertising platform for use on smaller competitors' platforms.

II. Rivals Complain Settlement is Too Weak

The changes may indeed significantly shift Google's approaches in the mobile and internet spaces, remedying much of the things competitors complained about (if Google follows through).  But competitors are reportedly not happy with the settlement.

Internet services firms like Microsoft, Yelp, Inc. (YELP), and Expedia, Inc. (EXPE) were hoping the FTC would fine Google.  They were also hoping that the watchdog agency would personally supervise Google's efforts to make the changes, rather than agree to a settlement which affords Google greater flexibility to perform the modifications on its own pace and terms.

Expedia Site
Expedia and others are upset at the FTC for letting Google off so easy.
[Image Source: Getty Images]

In a letter to the FTC posted in the FairSearch.org coalition's blog yesterday, the group writes, "If the FTC fails to take decisive action to end Google’s anti-competitive practices, and locks itself out of any remedies to Google’s conduct that are offered in Europe later this month, the FTC will have acted prematurely and failed in its mission of protecting America’s consumers."

FairSearch.org represents Microsoft, Expedia, and other smaller service firms.

In a post on TechNet Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel Dave Heiner adds:

Google continues to prevent Microsoft from offering consumers a fully featured YouTube app for the Windows Phone. 
....
Google has refused to allow Microsoft’s new Windows Phones to access this YouTube metadata in the same way that Android phones and iPhones do. As a result, Microsoft’s YouTube “app” on Windows Phones is basically just a browser displaying YouTube’s mobile Web site, without the rich functionality offered on competing phones. Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone. We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide.

In the European Union, a similar antitrust probe into allegations of elicit tactics is wrapping up.  The EU has reportedly given Google a final chance to settle.  If the search giant is lucky it may be able to wrap up that dispute in the same manner as it did the U.S. one -- without painful fines or strict government oversight.

Sources: TechNet, FairSearch.org, Bloomberg



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More than a slap on the wrist
By Tony Swash on 1/3/2013 6:55:53 PM , Rating: -1
Actually this is a bit more than a slap on the wrist.

The FTC press release is here:

http://ftc.gov/opa/2013/01/google.shtm

Excerpt from the FTC press release:

quote:
Under a settlement reached with the FTC, Google will meet its prior commitments to allow competitors access – on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms – to patents on critical standardized technologies needed to make popular devices such as smart phones, laptop and tablet computers, and gaming consoles.

Google will not seek injunctions to block rivals from using patents essential to key technologies.

In 2012, Google paid about $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola Mobility (MMI), including MMI’s patent portfolio of over 24,000 patents and patent applications. These patents have been a significant source of revenue for at least a decade, and hundreds of MMI’s patents are essential to industry standards used to provide wireless connectivity and for internet-related technologies. These standards are essential for smartphones, tablets, gaming systems, operating systems, and the increasing number of devices offering wireless connectivity or high definition video.

Development and use of these types of standards is a cornerstone for many high-tech markets, and encourages innovation and investment in high-tech products, according to the FTC’s complaint. By agreeing to standards, companies can ensure that the numerous components of a device or a technology network can work together seamlessly, often called “interoperability.


So from the patent point of view the the $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola is now essentially worthless because Google's abuse of Motorola's FRAND patents will now have stop.

In addition Google has agreed to stop ripping people off. That could damage their entire business model :)

Excerpt from the FTC press release:

quote:
In a separate letter of commitment to the Commission, Google has agreed to give online advertisers more flexibility to simultaneously manage ad campaigns on Google’s AdWords platform and on rival ad platforms; and to refrain from misappropriating online content from so-called “vertical” websites that focus on specific categories such as shopping or travel for use in its own vertical offerings.




RE: More than a slap on the wrist
By ritualm on 1/3/2013 8:32:06 PM , Rating: 2
More drivel from the horse's mouth.

Google bought Moto, not because it can then abuse FRAND patents, but because it needs those patents to defend against Apple's senseless nuclear holocaust, initiated by your late god. That $12.5B purchase isn't worthless, no matter how much you'd like to devalue it into oblivion.


RE: More than a slap on the wrist
By Tony Swash on 1/4/2013 6:13:21 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Google bought Moto, not because it can then abuse FRAND patents, but because it needs those patents to defend against Apple's senseless nuclear holocaust, initiated by your late god.


Which they cannot now do because they have agreed not to do it, to quote (again - pay attention!) the FTC statement:

quote:
Google will not seek injunctions to block rivals from using patents essential to key technologies.


I didn't say the Motorola acquisition was worthless (pay attention!) I said the patent aspect of it was now worthless. I think that now that Motorola's patent portfolio is disarmed it is most likely that Google's prime interest is to use Motorola to design and sell it's own brand of phones. A Googelrola phone will be aimed squarely at Samsung and not at Apple, Samsung's total and utter domination of the Android ecosystem and it's crushing of all the other Android OEMs has left Google in a very vulnerable position. Samsung knows (as does anyone with an ounce of brain) that the only way to make big money in mobile is the Apple way through vertical integration, and that includes services and OS. Samsung could with one fork of Android effectively collapse Google's whole Android strategy and Google has to have a play planned to cope with that contingency. That I think that play is Motorola's future roles at Google. Whether such a Googelrola handset would succeed is an entirely separate question.


RE: More than a slap on the wrist
By maugrimtr on 1/4/2013 8:25:16 AM , Rating: 2
Once again we find Tony carefully manipulating in Apple's favour. Tony, if you paid attention and read the paragraph you quoted, you'd have noted the caveat "essential to key technologies" which obviously refers to patents used by standards. Google, being involved itself in standards bodies, would be aware of how useless those are in lawsuits.

All other non-FRAND patents are left untouched by this FTC settlement. Even those which are FRAND, but unlicensed, are another negotiating chip for Google's side when it comes to future agitation by Apple using patents we now know are on their way to being invalidated.


By Tony Swash on 1/4/2013 9:55:12 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Tony, if you paid attention and read the paragraph you quoted, you'd have noted the caveat "essential to key technologies" which obviously refers to patents used by standards. Google, being involved itself in standards bodies, would be aware of how useless those are in lawsuits.


Neither Motorola or Google have any relevant or modern non-FRAND mobile device patents in their portfolio. That's because Apple left everyone else in the dust when they leapt ahead with the iPhone which meant everyone else had to play catch up (and copy). It's also why the likes of Googlerola have had to reach for FRAND encumbered patents in desperation, it's pretty much all they have in their portfolios. Apple has the modern and relevant IP, Google and the Android OEMs do not.

quote:
Even those which are FRAND, but unlicensed, are another negotiating chip for Google's side when it comes to future agitation by Apple using patents we now know are on their way to being invalidated.


Except being FRAND means they have to be offered on the same terms as is offered to all other companies (that's what the ND stands for in FRAND - 'non-descrimanatory') hence their almost complete uselessness in any sort of legal haggle. Plus of course Google has agreed in it's settlement with the FTC to not seek any injunctions based on such FRAND patents which agains renders them toothless.


RE: More than a slap on the wrist
By ritualm on 1/4/2013 7:47:27 PM , Rating: 2
You wrote:
quote:
So from the patent point of view the the $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola is now essentially worthless because Google's abuse of Motorola's FRAND patents will now have stop.

Then you wrote:
quote:
I didn't say the Motorola acquisition was worthless

Epic backtracking/cover-your-arse FAIL. The rest of your posts are more of the same pro-Apple, anti-everyone else crap we have all come to expect from you.

If DailyTech is the Jason Mick School of Bullcrap, you are in the freshman year, and you have already flunked your first mid-term exam.


RE: More than a slap on the wrist
By Cheesew1z69 on 1/4/2013 9:06:39 PM , Rating: 2
He has said it several times on other posts as well.


RE: More than a slap on the wrist
By Tony Swash on 1/5/2013 6:26:04 AM , Rating: 2
By the way I saw this and thought of you……..

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2011-01-09/


RE: More than a slap on the wrist
By Cheesew1z69 on 1/5/2013 7:31:07 AM , Rating: 1
DERPA! I AM TONY! I HAVE TO TRY TO BE CLEVER WITH LINKS! DERPA DERPA!

By the way, I and others see this and this of you...

http://www.pleasegodno.com/uploads/toilet-shit4.jp...


By Cheesew1z69 on 1/5/2013 7:57:56 AM , Rating: 1
think*


By Tony Swash on 1/5/2013 6:21:41 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You wrote:
quote:
So from the patent point of view the the $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola is now essentially worthless because Google's abuse of Motorola's FRAND patents will now have stop.

Then you wrote:
quote:
I didn't say the Motorola acquisition was worthless

Epic backtracking/cover-your-arse FAIL. The rest of your posts are more of the same pro-Apple, anti-everyone else crap we have all come to expect from you.


You are such a brainless tit sometimes :)

OK - one more time.

I said the patent component of the Motorola acquisition is now essentially worthless, not the whole deal, whether the whole deal is worthless is not clear yet.

Do you get the difference?

I will try to use analogy to help you get it. If I say the tablet business of Microsoft is worthless that does not mean that I am saying all the other bits of Microsoft's business are worthless.

Are we getting there, is that the unusual sound of cogs turning in your brain I hear or am I still taking to the walking brain dead?

Have a Happy New Year by the way :)


"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home














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