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EC slams Google's Motorola for abusing its dominance in Apple patent row

Could face a fine
Tue May 07 2013, 12:42
Motorola logo taken at MWC

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) has criticised Google's Motorola Mobility for abusing its dominant position by filing for a patent injunction against rival Apple.

Last year Motorola won a lawsuit against the iPhone maker for using GRPS technology that it had patented, a victory that lead to Apple products being banned from sale in Germany following a long dispute over licensing fees.

However, the EC has spoken out against the case, and said that the ruling went against the rules for standard essential patents (SEP). It has issued a statement of objection to Motorola Mobility, the regulator said on Monday, and if the complaint is upheld Motorola could face a hefty fine.

Commission VP Joaquín Almunia was critical of Motorola in a statement, and said the firm should focus on innovating rather than going after rival firms in court.

Alumina said, "The protection of intellectual property is a cornerstone of innovation and growth. But so is competition. I think that companies should spend their time innovating and competing on the merits of the products they offer - not misusing their intellectual property rights to hold up competitors to the detriment of innovation and consumer choice."

However Motorola seems to think it played by the rules. A spokesperson said, "We agree with the European Commission that injunctions should only be sought against unwilling licensees and, in this case, Motorola Mobility followed the procedure established in the German Supreme Court's Orange Book ruling. Apple had to make six offers before the court recognised them as a willing licensee."

Google must be hoping all this will blow over soon, as it owns Motorola Mobility and is already involved in several matters with the EC. Most notably, Fairsearch Europe, a group whose members include Microsoft and Nokia, has filed a complaint over Google's alleged anticompetitive practices on Android.

Apple was not immediately available for comment. µ


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