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Google Is Said to Assure Fair Licensing for Motorola Patents

February 14, 2012

(Updates with analyst’s comment in fourth paragraph.)

Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc., the largest maker of smartphone software, plans to send a letter to standards organizations reassuring them it will license Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. patents on a fair and reasonable basis, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.

The letter, to be signed by a senior Google lawyer, is likely to be sent within the next 24 hours, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the decision isn’t yet public. The move would come after a deadline passed for Google to submit remedies to the European Commission, which is evaluating the plan to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.

Google, which has drawn scrutiny over the acquisition of Motorola Mobility’s patents, plans to send the letter to several standards organizations, the people said. The groups would include the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, a nonprofit recognized by the European Union. Sending the letter is a “good step” for Google, said Maulin Shah, managing director of patent research firm Envision IP Inc. in New York.

“Having the blessing of wireless standards committees could help Google’s position,” Shah said in an interview. “The regulators might see that as a sign that this is not going to lead to a monopoly position.”

‘FRAND’ Licensing

Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman for Google, said Motorola Mobility’s patent-licensing approach won’t change after the acquisition. The company will continue to offer terms that are fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory, or FRAND, she said.

“Since we announced our agreement to acquire Motorola Mobility last August, we’ve heard questions about whether Motorola Mobility’s standard-essential patents will continue to be licensed on FRAND terms once we’ve closed this transaction,” she said. “The answer is simple: They will.”

Jennifer Erickson, a spokeswoman for Libertyville, Illinois-based Motorola Mobility, declined to comment.

European regulators will rule on the deal by Feb. 13, Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the commission in Brussels, said today. The agency could either clear the deal or open an in-depth probe that would last about 90 working days.

Google plans to use Motorola Mobility’s more than 17,000 patents to protect supporters of its Android software in licensing and legal disputes with rivals such as Apple Inc.

The acquisition -- the largest wireless-equipment deal in at least a decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg -- also makes Google a competitor to the other handset makers that make Android devices. In addition to running on Motorola Mobility phones, the software works on handsets made by companies such as Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp.

Shares of Mountain View, California-based Google dropped less than 1 percent to $606.77 today. The stock has declined 6.1 percent this year. Motorola Mobility shares rose less than 1 percent today to $38.88.

--With assistance from Hugo Miller in Toronto. Editors: Nick Turner, Tom Giles

To contact the reporters on this story: Edmund Lee in New York at; Brian Womack in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at

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