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Google Promises Fair Access To Motorola Patents

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Google has promised FRAND access to Motorola patents, but analysts say its stance hasn’t changed significantly

Google is in the process of sending out a number of letters to different standards organisations in an effort to reassure them that it would not abuse its control of Motorola’s patents, if its takeover bid is approved.

The search giant has promised it would license the patents on reasonable terms, but it has drawn criticism from those who claim that the letters do not prove Motorola’s stance has changed.

Nothing has changed

The letters apparently state that Google is willing to license its patents in accordance with FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory Terms), as such terms are expected of members in standards bodies.

Google is most likely trying to ease concerns raised by the decision of a German court to grant Motorola a permanent injunction against Apple’s iCloud service as part of the two companies’ ongoing patent litigation.

However, analyst Florian Mueller gained a copy of one of the letters and has claimed that it “fails to provide satisfactory answers”.

“Google could have put on a page – or a page and a half – everything that other companies in the industry, and consumers using the ubiquitous standards over which Motorola is suing others, need to be reassured about,” said Mueller of the four page letter. “Its four pages aren’t meant to improve anything. Google is basically saying that it will do exactly what Motorola is already doing now.”

Standing strong

Mueller says the letter reiterates Motorola’s position that it should receive 2.25 per cent of the net selling price of any product that uses its patents. He speculates that Google is deliberately taking an extreme position so that it can make concessions later as it “fails to address any concern any regulator may have”.

Last week, the European Union announced that it was to investigate Samsung to ascertain whether the company was abusing its position by not giving competitors fair access to its patents, fuelling suggestions that Motorola is next.

The EU has already delayed its decision on whether to approve Google’s takeover of Motorola Mobility, which split from Motorola’s business division in 2010, in a move widely seen to strengthen the Android platform and acquire patents which would help the company in its ongoing legal battle.