The European Union has opened two investigations into potential antitrust violations against Motorola Mobility based on complaints from Apple and Microsoft. In both cases, Motorola is accused of using its FRAND-based patents as tools to block competition from Apple’s iPhone and iPad, as well as Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console.
The European Commission said in a statement,
The Commission will investigate, in particular, whether by seeking and enforcing injunctions against Apple’s and Microsoft’s flagship products such as iPhone, iPad, Windows and Xbox on the basis of patents it had declared essential to produce standard-compliant products, Motorola has failed to honour its irrevocable commitments made to standard setting organisations. In these commitments, Motorola engaged to license those standard-essential patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The Commission will examine whether Motorola’s behaviour amounts to an abuse of a dominant market position prohibited by Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU).
Motorola Mobility, and now Google since it is buying the company, is sitting in the middle of a heated battle over the mobile device market along with the console game market thanks to the EU investigations. Google is in the process of buying Motorola Mobility for about US$12.5 billion.
Motorola targeted in EU Antitrust investigation
Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents offered his take on Google’s position by stating, “Google is already being investigated by the European Commission for suspicions of abuse of its dominant positions in search and online advertising. Now its $12.5 billion acquisition target Motorola Mobility is being investigated, and if and when Google closes the deal, it will effectively buy itself into two more EU antitrust investigations.
Google’s headaches won’t go away once its purchase deal is completed because the Internet search giant will be held responsible for any legal actions or sanctions taken against Motorola Mobility.
Mr. Mueller added, “It’s time for some people in Mountain View to realize that a multi-front war against competition authorities, on three continents in parallel, is a war that they won’t be able to win.”
Apple has not commented on the new EU antitrust investigations.