“A U.S. antitrust regulator has opened a formal probe into whether Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility unit is honoring pledges it made to license industry-standard technology for mobile and other devices on fair terms, three people familiar with the situation said,” Sara Forden reports for Businessweek. “The Federal Trade Commission has issued a civil investigative demand, which is similar to a subpoena, to the owner of the Android mobile operating system as it scrutinizes whether Google is improperly blocking rivals’ access to patents for key smartphone technology, one of the people said.”

“The agency is also seeking information from companies including Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. as it investigates whether Google intends to license technology under patents that help operate 3G wireless, Wi-Fi and video streaming on fair and reasonable terms, another one of the people said,” Forden reports. “Another focus of the FTC probe, the person said, is Google’s decision to continue litigation started by Motorola Mobility over industry-standard patents before Google bought the company.”

Forden reports, “Industry-standard technology helps ensure that different manufacturers’ products, such as mobile phone antennas and global-positioning system software, work together. Companies that create technology that helps develop the agreed-upon industry standard pledge to license patents for those inventions on reasonable terms. The FTC investigation follows the opening of formal probes of Motorola Mobility and Samsung Electronics Co. for the same issues by the European Commission earlier this year.”

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