The European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google. It had investigated the plans under EU Merger Regulation rules and says it approved the transaction mainly because it would not significantly modify the market situation in respect of operating systems and patents for these devices.
Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy, said “We have approved the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google because, upon careful examination, this transaction does not itself raise competition issues. Of course, the Commission will continue to keep a close eye on the behaviour of all market players in the sector, particularly the increasingly strategic use of patents.”
The EC noted that it was unlikely Google would restrict the use of Android solely to Motorola and said Google’s acquisition of ‘standard essential’ patents would not significantly change the existing market situation.
In the USA, the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division has closed its investigations into the Google/Motorola deal and a number of other patent acquisitions.
It issued a statement that said “After a thorough review of the proposed transactions, the Antitrust Division has determined that each acquisition is unlikely to substantially lessen competition and has closed these three investigations. In all of the transactions, the division conducted an in-depth analysis into the potential ability and incentives of the acquiring firms to use the patents they proposed acquiring to foreclose competitors. In particular, the division focused on standard essential patents that Motorola Mobility and Nortel had committed to license to industry participants through their participation in standard-setting organizations. The division’s investigations focused on whether the acquiring firms could use these patents to raise rivals’ costs or foreclose competition. The division concluded that the specific transactions at issue are not likely to significantly change existing market dynamics.”
The merger plans were originally announced in August 2011.