Google May Settle Patent-Abuse Charges

eric schmidtMore reason for Google’s Eric Schmidt to get upset.

Photo: jolie odell / flickr

Google may settle a dispute with the Federal Trade Commission over the way its Motorola subsidiary handled licensing for some smartphone patents, the Wall Street Journal reports.The FTC requested documents from Google in June, looking into charges that Motorola had refused to licence certain patents to competitors.

It appears that they found some smoking guns, the Journal reports, citing a source familiar with the FTC’s conversations with Google:

The FTC believes it has evidence that some people at Google admitted to colleagues that the company’s conduct with such patents was wrong, this person said.

Patent holders must agree to licence technology that’s essential to industry standards under “fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory” terms: Such patents are called “FRAND” patents.

Instead, Motorola used its patents against competitors like Apple and Microsoft. Apple won a case against Motorola in August on FRAND issues.

Asked about the patent issue and Motorola’s behaviour last week, Google chairman Eric Schmidt said, “I can’t talk about it …┬ábecause it actually just gets me too upset.”

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