Bloomberg: FTC planning to Sue Google for FRAND Patent abuse

imageBased on multiple sources, Bloomberg is reporting that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is recommending to commissioners that Google be sued for trying to block competitors’ access to key smartphone-technology patents in violation of antitrust law.

Google had been trying to use their FRAND patents, gained by purchasing Motorola, to try and block imports by Microsoft and Apple into USA.

According to their sources the majority of the agency’s five commissioners are inclined to sue. A final decision on the staff recommendation, made last month, isn’t likely until after the Nov. 6 presidential election, they said.

The FTC opened a formal probe into the matter in June, when it began seeking information from companies including Microsoft and Apple about whether Google offered licensing for technology under patents that help operate 3G wireless, Wi-Fi and video streaming on fair and reasonable terms, a person familiar with the matter said at the time.

“There is a tough emerging attitude by antitrust regulators who’ve recognized that the failure to honor standard essential patent commitments needs to be treated much more severely than in the past,” said Bert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute in Washington, which advocates strong enforcement of antitrust law.

“The agencies want to move this issue to the forefront by speaking out and tackling these high profile cases.”

A Google executive has admitted their purchase of Motorola was mainly about the patents the company held. With Google finding less and less success enforcing these patents the value of their $12.5 billion splurge is becoming less and less clear.

In a separate investigation the FCC is also examining whether Google’s business practices in search, advertising and mobile hurt competition, making for a company with a rather large target on their back.

Read more at Business Week here.

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