Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Microsoft Contends FTC-Google Deal Kills Pending Motorola Patent Cases

Though the agreement Google reached with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission last week was in many ways expected, there’s one issue that really doesn’t seem to be clear.

xbox_halo 4 spartan opsThat is: What is Google required to do with the existing standards-essential patent cases it is currently fighting on behalf of its Motorola subsidiary against Microsoft and Apple?

The FTC got Google to sign a consent decree saying it wouldn’t seek injunctions over its SEPs — patents that contribute to foundational parts of smartphones and other devices across the industry — as long as other companies were willing to license them.

But what happens to existing cases — for instance, one involving Motorola patents on the video compression standard H.264, which Microsoft wants to license for Xbox but not on Google’s proposed royalty terms?

FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan said last week, “The answer is that under the order they do not have to drop their appeals of SEP cases, but at the same time they cannot obtain or enforce any SEP exclusion orders or injunctions.”

But Microsoft pointed out, in a filing released today by the U.S. International Trade Commission (see below), that the FTC said last week in multiple parts of the published agreements and public statements that Google had to withdraw all its related SEP claims.

From the official statement from Jan. 3: “Google’s settlement with the Commission requires Google to withdraw its claims for injunctive relief on FRAND-encumbered SEPs around the world.”

Then, at the press conference, when asked directly about whether Google would withdraw its cases, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said, “My understanding is they’re going to stop trying to seek [an] exclusion order at the ITC.”

Microsoft notes that the ITC case is ongoing; in fact, the next deadline for briefs is tomorrow. So this issue needs to get figured out ASAP.

Asked for additional comment, the FTC’s Kaplan said, “I’m still trying to get clarification on the language from the statement that you asked about.”

A spokeswoman for Google said she did not have anything to announce on the ITC cases at this time.

Microsoft filing regarding Google-FTC

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work