Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Google Motorola Mobility - Standard-Essential Patents

When Google acquired Motorola Mobility, it obtained talented engineers, fundamental cell phone technology and a huge number of patents. It is difficult to place a value on a single patent without monetizing it, much less 17,000 patents, but it appears the standard-essential patents (SEPs) obtained in this acquisition have been particularly difficult to value.

As far as litigation, FOSS Patents reports Google (Motorola Mobility) has only won 1 out of 10 SEP cases asserted against Apple, while Samsung has only won 3 out of 24. Further, all Samsung's wins were outside the USA: two in South Korea and one in Netherlands. See Apple to FTC: Samsung and Google lose most of the cases over declared-essential patents

As far as the FTC, the Proposed Consent Order In the Matter of Google Inc., FTC File No. 121-0120, states Google's settlement with the Commission requires Google withdraw its claims for injunctive relief on FRAND-encumbered SEPs around the world, and offer a FRAND license to any company that wants to license Google's SEPs in the future.

The 25 public comments and related filings relating to the FTC-Google proposed consent decree reveal serious company opposition on injunctive relief being granted for FRAND-encumbered SEPs.

In The CCIA and RIM Tell the FTC Banning Injunctions for FRAND Patents Can Make Smartphone Wars Worse Groklaw decries this situation as robbing Google of its property right (Groklaw's concern is surprising) but in the end this will not influence the FTC or the courts.

So we don't know the value of the Motorola Mobility SEPs, but the answer for now is less than many thought. It is not always wonderful that "everybody in the industry" infringes a patent. Maybe this is the time companies realize the risk of over-declarations that certain patents are essential to an industry standard. At least it will be forseeable that seeking injunctive relief against a company stating a willingness to take a license of a SEP will be a problematic endeavor.

Copyright © 2013 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.