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FTC Reportedly Advised to Sue Google for FRAND Abuse

Bloomberg says four people “familiar with the matter” said it was a formal recommendation

After a roughly four-month investigation, the staff at the Federal Trade Commission has reportedly told the agency's five commissioners that they should bring Google to book for FRAND abuse for trying to block Apple and Microsoft from importing devices into the US that Google maintains violate the essential-standards smartphone patents held by its Motorola Mobility subsidiary.

Bloomberg says four people "familiar with the matter" said it was a formal recommendation.

The wire service also said that most of the commissioners are inclined to sue.

Google has demanded a stiff 2.25% of retail sales from Apple and Microsoft to license the 3G wireless, Wi-Fi and video streaming patents and Apple and Microsoft refused in an attempt to hold Motorola to its undertakings to the standards organizations to license the widgetry on fair terms.

Apple claims the patents are worth no more than a buck a unit, not the $9 to $10 and change Motorola wants.

Bloomberg quotes Google as saying, "We take our commitments to license on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms very seriously and are happy to answer any questions."

The FTC is focusing on Google's decision to continue the litigation started by Motorola Mobility over the industry-standard patents before Google bought the company. Those lawsuits could end up blocking imports of popular consumer products such as Microsoft's Xbox and Apple's iPhone and iPad.

The Justice Department is handling similar complaints against Samsung and the European Commission is investigating complaints against both companies.

US agencies are also investigating Google for its search and advertising practices, another case that is likely to come to the bar.

A FRAND trial with Motorola as defendant was supposed to start November 5 in a district court in Wisconsin that has been proposing to set a FRAND rate until it got cold feet.

FOSS Patents said over the weekend that it is now unclear if the trial will come off. Seems Apple may not have a right to remedies although it's suddenly willing to take a license for no more than a buck a pop.

It's apparently threatening Motorola with the patents it acquired from Nortel to lower the cost of Motorola's patents. Evidently it has reciprocity in mind.

Aside from the price, Apple proposes that any decision be worldwide, appealable and applicable only to unlicensed products so nobody pays twice unlike the double dip Motorola has in mind.

Another trial is set to start November 13 between Microsoft and Motorola, Microsoft has already agreed to accept the court's decision.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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