EU says Motorola abused its position by seeking and enforcing injunction against Apple

Motorola's practices harm competition and could lead to less consumer choice, the Commission said

Motorola Mobility abuses its dominant position in the E.U. by seeking and enforcing an injunction against Apple in Germany on the basis of its mobile phone standard-essential patents (SEPs), the European Commission said in a preliminary antitrust review of the case on Monday.

The Commission opened the investigation into Motorola Mobility in April 2012 to scrutinize whether it abuses its patents that are deemed essential to an industry standard to get a sales ban on products of the infringing party. Such conduct may be abusive if the potential licensee is willing to enter into a licence on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms, the Commission said in a news release.

Motorola Mobility has asserted a standard-essential patent against Apple in Germany that relates to the European Telecommunications Standardisation Institute's (ETSI) GPRS standard, a key industry standard for mobile and wireless communications, the Commission said.

The Google-owned company committed to license relevant patents on FRAND terms when the standard was adopted in Europe, but still it sought an injunction against Apple in Germany over a GPRS patent, the Commission said. Moreover, after the injunction was granted, Motorola went on to enforce it, even when Apple had declared that it would be willing to be bound by a determination of the FRAND royalties by the German court, the Commission said.

This practice harms competition, the Commission concluded in its Statement of Objections, which is a formal step in an antitrust investigation in which parties are informed about the Commission's preliminary findings.

"The Commission is concerned that the threat of injunctions can distort licensing negotiations and lead to licensing terms that the licensee of the SEP would not have accepted absent this threat. This would lead to less consumer choice," it said.

Today's statement does not question the availability of injunctive relief for the owners of standard-essential patents in other circumstances, for instance in the case of unwilling licensees, the Commission said.

"We agree with the European Commission that injunctions should only be sought against unwilling licensees and, in this case, Motorola followed the procedure established in the German Supreme Court's Orange Book ruling. Apple had to make six offers before the court recognized them as a willing licensee," Motorola spokeswoman Katie Dove said in an email.

Apple spokesman Alan Hely declined to comment.

The parties involved in the investigation can now respond in writing and request an oral hearing. The Commission can then make a final decision, and if there is sufficient evidence of an infringement, it can impose a fine of up to 10 percent of a company's annual worldwide turnover and prohibit the conduct.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags governmentregulationApplelegalintellectual propertypatenteuropean commissionMotorola Mobility

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?