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FTC and Google reportedly close to settling patent antitrust investigation

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The United States Federal Trade Commission has been looking into Google's use of Motorola's patent portfolio since June, but it appears the investigation could end in a settlement — and it may come as soon as this week. Politico reports that the two entities have been in talks about the investigation, which centers around whether Google-owned Motorola's FRAND patent litigation has been anticompetitive in nature. Under such a settlement, Google would likely agree to license any standards-essential patents in the Motorola portfolio, as well as abstain from seeking sales bans on products it feels infringe said patents.

The latter detail has been a particular sticking point as of late. Just last week the FTC weighed in on a case between Apple and Motorola, stating that granting sales bans in FRAND patent cases would be "inappropriate," echoing earlier concerns that it could harm competition in the United States. However, there could be some strings attached. Politico reports that Google may want the right to pursue injunctions against companies that infringe Motorola's patents but simply refuse to license them — even under the fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms required when licensing most standards patents.

Of course, until the final deal is announced everything is still in play — and there's no indication yet of what this would mean for ongoing cases involving the patents in question. With Google settling a previous complaint to the tune of $22.5 million, however, and recent reports indicating that the FTC may table its antitrust investigation into Google's search practices altogether, it appears the company may soon be clear of what had once seemed to be a worrisome series of government investigations.

The Verge
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