FTC orders Google to stop pursuit of SEP injunctions against ‘willing licensees’

“At a press conference at Federal Trade Commission headquarters in Washington DC, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz just announced that the U.S. competition enforcement agency has ordered Google to abandon immediately its pursuit of injunctive relief over the standard-essential patents (SEPs) that Motorola Mobility once promised to license to all comers on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms,” Florian Mueller reports for FOSS Patents. “A bipartisan majority of the FTC voted in favor of this order.”

“The Chairman’s speech sounded stronger and more definitive than the actual consent decree (an FTC order to which Google agreed) appears to be. The speech appeared to indicate that Google is precluded from the pursuit of injunctive relief over SEPs, period — but the written announcement says that the order ‘prohibits it from seeking injunctions against a willing licensee, either in federal court or at the ITC,'” Mueller reports. “This means Google can argue that someone is not a willing licensee. In my observation, all SEP abusers claim that the defendant has been unwilling to take a license (or to negotiate at all). I need to see a more detailed version of the consent decree to understand whether it provides meaningful guidelines for distinguishing a ‘willing licensee’ from an unwilling one.”

Mueller reports, “I believe Apple and Microsoft will benefit greatly from this decision… Apple and Microsoft are in a much stronger position than future defendants because the FTC alleged that Google’s Motorola Mobility ‘pursued – or threatened to pursue – injunctions against companies that need to use MMI’s standard-essential patents in their devices and were willing to license them on FRAND terms.’ This suggests to me that Apple and Microsoft were considered willing licensees by the FTC, a finding that should bear considerable weight with U.S. courts and the ITC…”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Tick tock, SEP abusers, tick tock.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
FTC staff said to formally recommend antitrust lawsuit against Google over FRAND abuse – November 1, 2012
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. Is Google getting any value out of buying Motorola yet? I find it amusing that the “Nexus” phones Google sells under its own brand name are designed and produced by LG, not Moto.

      1. Kind of a pisser, actually, given that a reduction in their tax bill forces an increase in mine. I’d rather see my welfare payments go to pay the heating bills of grannies or feed children. We have about as much chance of that as we do having direct control of the salaries of Congress. Seems like we should, since they allegedly work for us.

  2. Didn’n Google buy Motorola out of fear of them suing the other phone manufacturers with these patents?
    If that really was the case, then Google paid 12.5 billion for just about nothing 🙂

  3. The Motorola acquisition has cost Google credibility, rebukes from the FTC, and Android partners who see that Google wants Android for themselves making Motorola Android phones. You can bet Google isn’t happy sitting mostly on the sidelines seeing Samsung making what money there is to be found with Android besides Search and ads. Meanwhile Samsung is hedging it’s bets with their own mobile OS. There’s trouble afoot in Googleland.

  4. So, we tax payers paid for the FTC to “investigate” Google/Motorola and the result, “Hey, Google, do what you were supposed to do.” Really, I am serious, Really?

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