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EU Targets Motorola In Antitrust Investigation Over Standards-Essential Patents 85

Posted by samzenpus
from the between-the-crosshairs dept.
Fluffeh writes "Motorola Mobility has found itself on the receiving end of an antitrust investigation by the European Commission due to its alleged abuse of standards-essential patents related to WiFi, H.264, and 3G wireless networking. The EC investigation comes shortly after it launched a similar investigation of Samsung, which has been attempting to leverage its 3G-related patents against Apple. The investigation could be especially worrisome for Google, which was recently granted approval of its planned merger with Motorola."
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EU Targets Motorola In Antitrust Investigation Over Standards-Essential Patents

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  • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:06AM (#39569665) Journal
    There are many cases [europa.eu] brought against European corporations. Most of those do not make the news across the pond, and many do not make the headlines here in the EU either. The same goes for antitrust cases brought against lesser-known US companies.
  • by cbope (130292) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:10AM (#39569671)

    It's because large US-based corporations doing business in the EU tend to try and get away with anti-competitive practices that are allowed to pass for "business as usual" in the US, where there is a much more permissive the-market-will-regulate-itself attitude.

    It makes headlines because we in the EU try to keep companies from pulling this shit over here, and largely it works.

  • by SilenceBE (1439827) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:13AM (#39569679)
    There are numerous antitrust enforcements or investigations against European companies. Even ones with very hefty fines. The reason you don't hear about it is that this mostly isn't picked up by non European news agencies.

    It isn't about it are "American" companies if that is what you are insinuating. I personally think it also has to do that in America companies get a way with a lot more (America is led by corporations imho) in the states and then they are confronted with a continent that put them more on a leash to more or less protect their citizens.

    The warranty thing with Apple and Europe is for me a class book example.
  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @07:38AM (#39569969)

    Actually do expensive research and get patents that mean something, and they will label them "standards essential"...

    Um, you do realize that Motorola submitted those patents for inclusion in the industry standard and were accepted into the standard in return for an agreement to license them for FRAND terms. They weren't labeled, against their will, standards essential - they asked to be included in the industry standard.

    Motorola isn't the victim here.

  • by chrb (1083577) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @07:59AM (#39570061)

    Why is it that the only antitrust enforcement I hear about in the EU is against non-EU based companies?

    Technically every enforcement action is against an EU based corporation - in order to legally do trade within the EU, you need an EU corporate presence. The European Commission regulates violations of trade law within the EU. The EU didn't levy fines against Microsoft US for antitrust violations within the borders of the United States, it levied fines against Microsoft Europe [microsoft.eu] for antitrust violations within the EU borders.

    I would guess that you haven't heard about other enforcement actions because you don't read the EU antitrust news? You chose to read US oriented news, which doesn't report on enforcement actions of foreign regulatory bodies against foreign companies? Also, the EU is made up of many nation states, each of which has its own antitrust regulatory body. The EU only gets involved in antitrust when the scale of the illegal activity exceeds the ability of the national courts to handle, or where the national courts have erred or require clarification. This is usually difficult cases, or those with international scope that involve large transnational corporations. EU-level enforcement actions are, by their nature, more likely to be against a large corporation trading internationally, which for tax and trade reasons may well be headquartered in the U.S. (although increasingly companies are choosing to be headquartered in Ireland or Luxembourg for tax purposes, see Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

    Is it really that case that no corporations inside the EU are big enough to be anti-competitive?

    The EU have issued over €12 billion of fines in the last 5 years against illegal cartels. How many of those cases did you read about in the U.S. press? This is not some conspiracy - it is entirely understandable, their readers (Americans) generally don't care about the EU fining a Belgian glass manufacturer, or Frankfurt Airport. They only feel an emotional connection when the target of the fine is the subsidiary of a U.S. corporation.
    2011/03/03 Siemens AG fined €397 million by EU antitrust [reuters.com]
    2012/03/29 Telefonica fined €152 million. [bloomberg.com]
    2011/10/25 Solvay fined €23 million [businessweek.com]
    2011/06/22 Telekomunikacja Polska S.A €127 million [europa.eu]
    2008/11/12 Largest every cartel fine from the EU - over €1.3 billion against a Japanese/US/English/Belgian cartel. [europa.eu]

  • by cbope (130292) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @08:31AM (#39570225)

    Well, for one thing, don't model your healthcare on the UK system. It's not exactly a pinnacle of socialized healthcare today. In fact there are a lot of problems with the UK system, not necessarily related to socialized healthcare as a whole. I would urge you to look to Scandinavian countries, such as Finland, Sweden and Denmark, for models on which a good healthcare system can be built. I live in Finland and can attest to both the good education system (do I have to mention that university education is *free*?) and a working socialized healthcare system where you don't end up in the poorhouse when you get ill. Prescriptions drugs cost a fraction of what they do in the US, and if you have a chronic illness that requires continuous medication, once you reach a very reasonable yearly cap, everything else above that is free.

    As a sidenote, since you brought it up, the Finnish education system is not based on rote memorization and testing of students to gauge progress. It's based on the teacher actually teaching the students (wow, innovative concept!) and taking the needs of each student into account. Each student is allowed to learn at their own pace, it's not forcing the entire class to learn at one speed and fuck the ones who can't keep up. It's also more objective based and learning of problem-solving skills that will be useful in a real job.

    I am very familiar with the US and Finnish systems, I'm an American living in Finland for 12 years. I bet you can guess which I prefer...

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 @ g m a i l.com> on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @08:49AM (#39570347)

    Not at all. MS's patents in that case are not FRAND covered and are not part of a standard.

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