SPOTLIGHT: Google Under Scrutiny from FTC and EU

On Friday, the Federal Trade Commission joined the E.U. to investigate whether Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) is honoring its obligation to license patents on FRAND terms.

In its latest dig into Google’s business, the FTC issued a civil investigative demand — similar to a subpoena — as it reviews whether Google improperly blocked its rivals’ access to smartphone technology patents. It is also seeking information from Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to investigate if Google attempted to license technology under patents that assist operating 3G wireless, Wi-Fi and video streaming for fair and reasonable terms.

The information came from unidentified sources according to Bloomberg.

In addition, one source said another focus of the FTC review included Google’s decision to extended the litigation that Motorola Mobility started over industry-standard patents prior to Google purchasing the company.

Through industry-standard technology, it assists in the assurance that different manufacturers’ products, including mobile phone antennas and global-positioning system software, will work together. Companies developing technology that helps create the agreed-upon industry standard pledge then license patents for the inventions with reasonable terms.

Google spokeswoman Niki Fenwick said to Bloomberg, “We take our commitments to license on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms very seriously and are happy to answer any questions.”

Just Another Investigation Against Google

The FTC has previously opened a large broad antitrust investigation into Google’s search results rankings and additional business to determine if its procedures hurt competition.

Earlier in the month, the FTC filed a statement with the ITC and suggested limitations for companies in their ability to win orders that blocked the imports of its competitors’ products through using patents built into industry-wide standards, reported Bloomberg.

On June 26, the ITC announced that it was reviewing whether Apple, with its 75 percent of revenues from the iPhone, iPad and related products, had infringed on Motorola Mobility patents. Back in April, a trade judge had ruled that Apple had infringed on one patent.

Should the ITC agree with Motorola Mobility, it could order U.S. Customs and Border Protection to cease Asian-made iPhones and iPad from coming into the U.S. On July 2, the ITC will announce a possible review of a trade judge’s findings that Microsoft’s Xbox infringed on four Motorola Mobility patents.