Google’s $12.5 billion bid for mobile device maker Motorola Mobility has been approved by European and US regulators.
Antitrust regulators in both jurisdictions ruled that the deal would not impair competition in the mobile device market.
However, they did recognise that Motorola’s intellectual property cache, which consists of 17,000 patents and a further 7,500 patent applications and which was seen by many as Google’s motivation for the deal, could be abused by the web giant.
The US Justice Department said that Google’s future use of those patents is "cause for concern", while EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia warned that the company would not be allowed abuse Motorola’s IP.
The deal still needs to be approved by regulators in China, Taiwan and Israel.
Google announced its intention to acquire Motorola Mobility back in August 2011, not long after a consortium that included Microsoft and Apple outbid the company for a stash of mobile patents from defunct Canadian network equipment vendor Nortel. The Motorola deal was therefore perceived as a defensive move to protect Google from being sued over patent infringement in its Android mobile operating system.
Since then, Apple has called for intellectual property practices in the sector to be revised. In a letter the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, it proposed that technology companies should sign up to the so-called Frand principles, which prevent companies from licensing ‘standard’ technologies such as 3G to competitors at unreasonable rates.