Today the folks at Google have been given the official final OK by the European Union to purchase Motorola Mobility. This unconditional regulatory approval will allow Google to purchase the handset maker for a total of $12.5 billion USD, the EU noting though that they would be monitoring the company and rivals' use of Motorola patents to ensure they all comply with their antitrust rules galore. This deal was originally announced this past August and still needs U.S. Justice Department approval before it can be finalized.
This merger comes without concern from the EU on whether it will present any competition issues, but the idea that Motorola was purchased for its patents is alive in the minds of more than just Google. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia spoke on the matter in a set of statements. Almunia said he was worried that Google and other firms involved may raise a series of legal disputes over intellectual property rights. Almunia spoke thusly:
"We have approved the acquisition... because upon careful examination, this transaction does not itself raise competition issues. This merger decision should not and will not mean that we are not concerned by the possibility that, once Google is the owner of this portfolio, Google can abuse these patents, linking some patents with its Android devices. This is our worry. We might be obliged to open some cases in the future. This is not enough to block the merger but we will be vigilant." - Almunia
In addition to U.S. Justice Department approval, the companies also need approval from Chinese regulators. March 20th should be the date when all of this is finalized, if sources speaking with Reuters are to be believed. Google will use Motorola's 17,000 patents and 7,500 pending patent applications to defend themselves against the incoming wave of litigation cases coming from rivals like Microsoft and Apple. The war rages on!