FTC to ITC: Don’t Ban iPhone, Xbox Imports

Google wants a U.S. import ban on Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Xbox over claims the products infringe on patents it owns, but the Federal Trade Commission thinks that’s a bad idea. Google acquired the patents when it bought Motorola Mobility, and now wants to use those patents to block Apple and Microsoft from bringing its products into the country even though the patents are considered key to industry standards.

FTC doesn't want Google to win an iPhone injunctionFTC doesn’t want Google to win an iPhone injunction

The FTC said there need to be limits on how industry standard-related patents are used for import injunctions, according to Bloomberg. In a statement filed with the International Trade Commission, the FTC said the agency should “consider the impact of [standards essential patents] hold-up on competitive conditions and United States consumers.”

Part of the FTC’s argument, according to Foss Patents, is that blocking the import of products like the iPhone and Xbox, could lead to higher prices for consumers and undermine the standards setting process at the same time.

“The FTC just wants to ensure that SEP holders get compensated based on the value of their actual innovation, as opposed to exploiting a gatekeeper role through hold-up,” Florian Mueller of Foss Patents said.

Since federal regulations require the ITC to consult with the FTC, Department of Justice as part of its investigations, the FTC statement will likely pull a lot of weight. As such, it seems somewhat unlikely that Google will be able to use its recently acquired patents to keep popular products like the iPhone and Xbox out of the United States — or to use the threat as a bargaining tool.