The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently announced that it has reached an agreement with Google in which it will license standard-essential patents that it has obtained from Motorola under FRAND terms. Google previously faced charges from the FTC asserting that the search giant’s business practices could stifle the competition among competing electronic device manufacturers, such as Apple. The company was accused of backing off commitments to license standard-essential patents under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
Instead, Google either pursued or threatened to pursue injunctions against competing products for alleged patent infringement, rather than offering FRAND licensing deals for those patents in question. In a letter sent out to those who provided public comments on the case, the FTC said the order “strikes a balance” that enables Google to negotiate FRAND rates while protecting outside parties from “opportunistic behavior” that doesn’t align with the principles of FRAND. According to the FTC:
An implementer can negotiate licensing terms without facing the threat of an injunction, but Google is not barred from responding to an implementer that misuses the protections in the order to delay rather than facilitate entering into a FRAND license. In addition, Google has recourse if an implementer refuses to take steps to obtain a FRAND license, or to enter into a license after a FRAND rate is determined. Like any other licensor, Google also has the right to seek treble damages for willful infringement.