Google’s FTC deal may not stop Microsoft and Apple suit

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Google’s two-year showdown with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may have reached an agreement last week but that may not be the end of the issue. Last week’s agreement was mainly reached on search but it does add restrictions on how Google uses its patents.

According to a Bloomberg report, the settlement with the FTC will probably not resolve issues with Apple and Microsoft who rejected earlier royalty demands. According to the report, both companies accused Google’s Motorola Mobility unit of “misusing its patents, complained to US and European regulators and filed breach-of- contract suits in federal court”.

“It’s going to be a more reasonable offer than last time — I’m not sure it’s going to be perfectly reasonable,” said patent lawyer Robert Stoll of Drinker Biddle in Washington, who’s not involved in the disputes. “You might see further activity by the FTC if they think Google is not acting in good faith.”

The FTC’s case against Google, claimed that Google and its subsidiary Motorola Mobility (which Google purchased for US$12.4-billion last year) misused patents critical to the smartphone industry and sought high royalties.

As part of the deal with the FTC, reports Reuters, “Google agreed to drop claims for injunctive relief against competitors in certain patent disputes around the world. It also agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of a court or arbitrator when disputes over payment rates arise”.

This means that the search giant cannot block sales or imports of competitors’ products and must report all its moves regarding this to the FTC.

But all this doesn’t mean Microsoft and Apple will drop their suits against the company, neither does it mean that Google is required to drop its suits.

“It takes two entities to reach a settlement and Apple has made clear they are doing everything they can to seek every possible remedy,” James Kulbaski, a patent lawyer with Oblon Spivak, told Bloomberg. “If Apple’s not willing to settle, there can’t be a global settlement.”

The agreement “establishes clear rules of the road for standards essential patents going forward,” Google said in a statement.

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