The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating if Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is honoring commitments originally made by Motorola to license industry-standard technology on fair terms. The regulator has issued a civil investigative demand to Google, which acquired Motorola in February for $12.5 billion and received more than 17,000 patents alongside.
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The agency is talking to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), among others, to make sure Google is not blocking rivals’ access to patents for industry-standard smartphone technology. Among the patents under question are those that help operate 3G wireless, Wi-Fi, and video streaming, according to Bloomberg. Microsoft confirmed the company had received a civil investigative demand from the FTC.
The FTC is also probing Google’s decision to continue lawsuits started by Motorola over industry-standard patents, which could eventually lead to a ban of imports for Microsoft’s Xbox and Apple’s iPhone and iPad. The antitrust regulator is already investigating Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) for its search-results rankings and other business practices to ensure they don’t harm competition.
The recent spurt in patent litigation has spread across the globe with all the major players in the industry involved in suing each other.
“Antitrust agencies around the world are worried about this patent problem, which is particularly important as we shift to mobile technologies,” Bert Foer from the American Antitrust Institute told Bloomberg. “An injunction against the use of a patent can destroy a company’s entire market strategy.”