updated 11:15 pm EST, Tue February 7, 2012
Google may make Motorola license patents fairly
A pair of sources claimed Tuesday that Google was about to send a formal pledge to standards bodies that it would license and Motorola's standards-based patents fairly if its $12.5 billion takeover of the phone designer was approved. An official letter would go out within the next day, Bloomberg said, to groups like Europe's telecom agency ETSI. Google wouldn't directly confirm the message, but through spokeswoman Niki Fenwick claimed that Motorola already had been licensing on fair terms and wouldn't change.
Whether or not that meant actual change wasn't clear. Motorola has been arguing that it was licensing on FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) terms, but it has been asking for a 2.25 percent royalty for Apple's use of 3G and an equal percentage from Microsoft and others. Both of the targeted companies have balked at the rates, which are widely considered high, and have been pressing either to lower them or invalidate the need for royalties altogether.
A Google pledge could still see the company back off of Motorola's current stance. The company so far has only been willing to lend patents to support an Android partner in a lawsuit and hasn't sued mobile device rivals itself. It may be obliged to continue on any existing lawsuits, but may be more compelled to compromise than Motorola alone, whose entire business is at stake.
European regulators will decide whether the letters are persuasive on February 13, when they rule on the legality of Google's acquisition.