EU greenlights Google’s Motorola acquisition, but continues monitoring ‘strategic use of patents’

As expected, the European Commission cleared Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of handset maker Motorola Mobility following a short period of back and forth between the Internet giant and European regulators. A statement issued by the European Commission said the transaction was approved “mainly because it would not significantly modify the market situation in respect of operating systems and patents for these devices.”

The Justice Department should approve the transaction this week, if the Wall Street Journal is to be trusted. When it finally goes through (and that’s a when at this stage, not an if), Google will gain control of Motorola’s extensive patent portfolio and use it to deflect Android patent attacks by Apple, Oracle, and Microsoft. The Commission noted it would continue to keep a close eye on “the increasingly strategic use of patents.” As you know, Apple is pressuring European Union regulators to establish consistent royalty fees for patents deemed essential to wireless standards.

Google’s Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Don Harrison wrote on the official company blog that Google is now “just waiting for decisions from a few other jurisdictions before we can close this transaction.” He maintained the company line that the deal will “enhance competition and offer consumers faster innovation, greater choice and wonderful user experiences.”

Motorola reported an $80 million loss in the holiday quarter and shed 800 jobs. It is also embroiled in a nasty patent fight with Apple that saw the latter sue the former in the United States over Qualcomm patent license after Motorola won a brief injunction of 3G iPhone and iPad sales in Germany.

Read more