The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it has, by a 4-1 vote, ordered Google to stop excluding competitors from using standards essential patents owned by Motorola Mobility. The patents in question are what the FTC calls the “cornerstone of the interoperability standards that we have taken for granted.”
In a press conference today announcing the agency’s ruling, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said that Google has agreed to a Consent Order that will prohibit it from seeking injunctions against a willing licensee, either in federal court or at the International Trade Commission (ITC). The company will not be able to block the use of any “standard-essential patents” that Google had previously committed to license on ‘fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory’ (FRAND) terms.
The FTC investigation was a 19-month review that looked at millions of pages and documents and included hours of testimony. Google says it has made two voluntary product changes regarding its search practices, including:
More choice for websites: Websites can already opt out of Google Search, and they can now remove content (for example reviews) from specialized search results pages, such as local, travel and shopping;More ad campaign control: Advertisers can already export their ad campaignsfrom Google AdWords. They will now be able to mix and copy ad campaign data within third-party services that use our AdWords API.
Furthermore, with respect to the Motorola patent issue, the company said that it has “agreed with the FTC that we will seek to resolve standard-essential patent disputes through a neutral third party before seeking injunctions. This agreement establishes clear rules of the road for standards essential patents going forward.”