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WSJ: Google may settle mobile FRAND patent antitrust claim

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The Wall Street Journal on Friday reported that Google is thinking about settling a potential antitrust claim by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission regarding the use of Motorola patents, which the company allegedly used as weapons against rival mobile phone makers likeApple.

According to two people familiar with the situation, Google is contemplating a settlement of an FTC investigation that is probing whether the company purposely refused to license industry essential patents to competing mobile device makers, and in some cases leveraged the IP to seek injunctions.

The FTC in June began investigating Google's use of patents it acquired after purchasing Motorola in May.

Following the buyout, the internet search giant continued to press forward with a number of existing lawsuits, including possibly anticompetitive litigation regarding standards-essential FRAND patents.

One of the sources noted that the FTC had threatened to bring a case against Google over alleged unfair business practices involving the use of Motorola's IP against rival mobile device makers like Apple and Microsoft. During discussions, the agency's lawyers cited a number of cases in which the Google subsidiary possibly violated FRAND terms.

Google reportedly argued that competitors currently holding FRAND patents also violated their duties in bringing suit against Motorola and others, including filings from Apple. The company went on to say that if a settlement was reached, it would be left defenseless as rivals push forward with their own FRAND claims.

In a surprise move earlier in October, Motorola withdrew an ITC complaint against Apple without explanation. At the time, speculation suggested the move was either a goodwill gesture or a determination by Google that the suit was unlikely to succeed.