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Monday, April 02, 2012, 02:48 pm PT (05:48 pm ET)

EU considering Apple, Microsoft complaints against Motorola

The European Commission is deciding whether to act on complaints from Apple and Microsoft over Motorola's alleged abuse of standard-essential patents to keep ahead of competition.

Joaquín Almunia, vice president of the European Commission and competition Commissioner, said on Friday that he is looking into the complaints as part of a broad-reaching plan to reduce abuse of the standard-essential patents by telecoms, reports The Wall Street Journal.

"I am considering whether we need to investigate these complaints formally to help bring more clarity into this area of competition control," Almunia said in a lecture in Washington, D.C.

The EU competition chief used the ongoing mobile industry patent war as an example of how the strategic use of patents to block competitors "defeats the very purpose of the patent system, which is to reward invention and stimulate innovation."

Almunia notes that the patent struggle has become a morass and is slowing down innovation and growth in the telecommunications industry.

"I don’t need to tell you that this is unacceptable," Alumnia said, "and I am determined to use antitrust enforcement to prevent such hold-up by patent holders."

Apple in February filed an "antisuit lawsuit" against Motorola to protect itself against litigation that leverages standard-essential patents in an attempt to block sales of the iPhone 4S. During the same month, the Cupertino, Calif., company also lodged a complaint with the European Commission regarding the matter.

Microsoft's complaint against Motorola and its soon-to-be-owner Google deals with the telecom's handling of patents regarding mobile internet connectivity.

Almunia mentioned the veritable laundry list of ongoing patent-related investigations being headed up by the EU including Samsung's use of FRAND patents, Google's conduct in search and search advertising and the recent scrutiny over Apple's alleged e-book price fixing which is also being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice.