FTC staff said to formally recommend antitrust lawsuit against Google over FRAND abuse

“Google Inc. should be sued by the Federal Trade Commission for trying to block competitors’ access to key smartphone-technology patents in violation of antitrust law, the agency’s staff told commissioners in a formal recommendation, according to four people familiar with the matter,” Sara Forden reports for Bloomberg. “A majority of the agency’s five commissioners are inclined to sue, according to the people, who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public. A final decision on the staff recommendation, made last month, isn’t likely until after the Nov. 6 presidential election, they said.”

“At issue are Google’s efforts to block U.S. imports of products made by Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. by claiming the devices, which rely on industry-standard technology, infringe patents owned by Google’s Motorola Mobility unit, the people said,” 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.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Anything that curtails companies from abusing standards-essential patents in order to protect themselves from charges and/or delay punishments for infringing other companies’ design patents is a welcome development.

Related articles:
Google U.S. antitrust lawsuit said to be urged by FTC investigators over Internet search, FRAND abuse – October 15, 2012
U.S. FTC investigating Google, Motorola Mobility over FRAND abuse – June 30, 2012
EU launches full-blown investigation of Samsung’s suspected abuse of FRAND-pledged patents; Motorola on notice – January 31, 2012
Apple asked standards body to set rules for essential FRAND patents – February 8, 2012


        1. I rather like the Vikings in the Capital 1 ads that set up alligator moats and swinging pendulums as home security. Just let Eric T. Mole walk the gauntlet of Sven’s Security Systems.

  1. A standard organization is a cartel by definition, a formal agreement among competing firms. Therefore a standard organization is illegal inherently. For a standard organization to have immunity from prosecution, it must abide certain rules: no discussion of price/cost, standard must be licensed in FRAND term, etc. The violation of rules land your in trouble with anti-trust authority.

    1. Google has 13 lobbyists registered with the House of Representatives; they’ve already spent $13.1 million Jan to Sept this year, against $9.68 million for all of 2011. Their big guns are:
      • Jamie Brown: Prior to her time at Google, Jamie served as a Special Assistant to President Bush for Legislative Affairs.
      • Frannie Wellings: Google Inc’s Federal Policy Outreach Manager before becoming a lobbyist. Before that a Senate staffer.
      • Alan Davidson: Google’s director of public policy and government affairs. Main target for Google: lobbies against net neutrality
      • Johanna Shelton: Google’s senior policy counsel, and had previously worked for Rep. Rich Boucher who introduced his additions to water down the online privacy bill
      • Seth Webb: longtime Republican staffer in the House
      • Pablo Chavez: Google’s director of public policy, formerly McCain’s chief counsel.
      • Will DeVries: Google’s policy counsel. Gave a briefing on Capitol Hill with the Cato Institute, aimed at building support for weakening the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. “The confusion and the costs associated with it really for us is undermining the growth of our services and the growth of the cloud.”

      See a theme here?

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