FTC investigating Google over Motorola patents, says report
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Google's Motorola Mobility unit is improperly blocking access to industry-standard technology that should be licensed to competitors according to traditional industry and legal practice, Bloomberg reports.
Citing unnamed sources, the news agency said the FTC has "issued a civil investigative demand, which is similar to a subpoena" to Google. The government is also reportedly seeking information from Apple and Microsoft.
The issue involves so-called frand patents - "fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory" - that cover technology essential to the smooth operation of an industry. As CNET's Roger Cheng has explained, the idea "is based on the principle that fair licensing of intellectual property is often needed because sometimes certain ideas and patents just need to be shared for everything to work together properly" - i.e., for things like smartphones from rival companies to work with each other. In a kind of quid pro quo arrangement, companies that produce technology that's adopted by the industry as a standard agree to license that technology at a fair rate. ...