Policy

Regulators OK Google’s Motorola Bid

2/20/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Motorola Mobility is a few steps
closer to becoming a division of the world’s
largest Internet company.

The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division
last week gave the go-ahead for Google’s
proposed acquisition of the mobile devices
and cable technology supplier, while noting
that “how Google may exercise its patents
in the future remains a significant concern.”
The European Commission also approved the
Google-Motorola deal, though it similarly said
it would keep “a close eye” on the sector.

In August 2011, Google announced its surprise
bid to acquire Motorola Mobility, a key
supplier of set-tops and other products to the
cable industry, for $12.5 billion in cash. The
deal was driven primarily by Google’s desire
to obtain the latter’s portfolio of more than
17,000 patents to protect its Android mobile
operating system from litigation by rivals
like Apple and Microsoft.

Concurrent with its approval of Google-7
Motorola, the DOJ antitrust division cleared
the acquisition by Apple, Microsoft and Research
in Motion of Nortel Networks patents
— in a $4.5 billion transaction — as well as
Apple’s acquisition of certain Novell patents.

The Justice Department said Google’s
statements regarding its position on licensing
key patents on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory
(FRAND) terms “were more
ambiguous” than those from Apple and
Microsoft.

The agency’s antitrust division concluded
that Google’s acquisition of the patents
“did not substantially lessen competition,”
but said it will vigilantly watch the company’s
patent-related activities: “The division’s
continued monitoring of how competitors
are exercising their patent rights will ensure
that competition and innovation are unfettered
in this important industry.”

The acquisition of Motorola Mobility will
“help supercharge Android,” Google vice
president and deputy general
counsel Don Harrison wrote
in a blog post. “It will also enhance
competition and offer
consumers faster innovation,
greater choice and wonderful
user experiences.”

GOOGLE-MOTOROLA: DEAL MILESTONES

Aug. 15, 2011: Google
announces agreement
to acquire Motorola
Mobility for $40 a share.

Oct. 27: Motorola
discloses plans to lay
off 800 employees in
fourth quarter.

Nov. 17: Motorola
shareholders approve
merger

Jan. 26, 2012: Deal
receives clearance in
Turkey, Russia.

Feb. 13: DOJ and
European Commission
clear transaction.

September