Reuters is reporting that the U.S Justice Department is expected to approve Google’s $12.5 billion bid for Motorola Mobility’s patent portfolio as well as a bid by an Apple led consortium for the patent library of Nortel Networks.
Google first announced its intent to purchase Motorola Mobility’s patent library, pending approval by federal regulators, back in August 2011. When this deal goes through, Google will have one of the largest patent libraries in the mobile phone industry.
Google initially tried to bid for the Nortel portfolio as well, but the Apple-led consortium outbid outbid the search engine giant. This consortium, which includes Apple rivals RIM and Microsoft, will pay $4.5 billion for 6,000 patents that the now defunct Canadian telecom-equipment manufacturer is selling.
While the Google deal will likely be OKed by American regulators, there are some concerns that Google’s expanded patent library means the company will own patents for things that are considered industry standards, and will attempt to licence these to competitors at exorbitant rates.
Google would be expected to licence the patents to anything considered an industry by a principle known as FRAND: fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory.
In an attempt to assuage fears over potential patent trolling, Google has sent letters to standards organizations claiming that it would licence FRAND patents in Motorola’s portfolio.
“Google will not apply for injunctive relief against a willing licensee,” Google wrote in its letter.
Google added that it “reserves its right to seek any and all appropriate judicial remedies against counterparties” that refuse to play by its rules for licencing FRAND patents.
Cisco Systems has been an outspoken critic of the industry’s handling of FRAND patents. In a letter written to Google in late January, and published recently in the Wall Street Journal, the company said while it supported Apple’s efforts “the telecommunications industry would benefit from a more consistent and transparent application of FRAND.”