EU investigates Motorola on patent abuses

April 3, 2012 at 4:14 PM

BRUSSELS, April 3 (UPI) -- The European Commission said it would investigate U.S. electronics giant Motorola on possible misuse of patent laws.

"The Commission will assess whether Motorola has abusively … used certain of its standard essential patents to distort competition," the European Union's antitrust division said in a statement.

At the core of the argument is whether or not Motorola is, essentially, hoarding key technology that it owns, PC Magazine reported Tuesday. The concept behind the investigation is known as FRAND, which stands for fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing obligations.

It refers to licensing essential patents even to a rival company, rather than hoarding a particular innovation that would hold the industry back if licenses were not made available.

A company that owned the intellectual rights to a key technological and did not play fair by sharing the technology could, essentially, hold an entire industry's progress hostage.

FRAND, however, obliges a company to license the technology, rather than wait for a rival company to replicate the breakthrough, which then, invariably, slows down progress through lengthy lawsuits.

In a statement, Motorola said it is "confident that a thorough investigation will demonstrate that it has honored its FRAND obligations and complied with antitrust laws."

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