Apple claims Motorola used FRAND patents to try an extort cross-licensing deal

An Android holding a Motorola flag

According to some EU court documents, Motorola and Apple had talked about hashing out a licensing deal in late 2011. Given their rough and ongoing patent battles over the last few months, it's no surprise to hear Apple claim in the documents that their "refusal to accede to this demand led Motorola Mobility to sue Apple in an attempt to exclude Apple’s products from the market.” Meanwhile, Motorola has claimed that they've been offering fair, reasonable, and non-descriminatory licensing to Apple since 2007. Google's pending purchase of Motorola looms large in this whole affair, through which they would acquire between 7000 and 8000 patents (500 - 1000 of which would be European). Google says that they're open to Motorola licensing their patents for up to 2.25% of the handset cost, which is $1.35 on a $600 phone. Overall, the EU court sounded positive on the idea of a cross-licensing deal between Motorola and Apple.

"From the information available to the Commission, this option envisaged a cross-licence possibly to the benefit of all Android OEMs but also with mutual carve-outs. This kind of cross-licence would be different in scope from that which might have been concluded by Motorola Mobility prior to the transaction."

I'm no lawyer, but there seem to be two sides to this. On one hand, I could certainly see the mutual benefit of Motorola and Apple to allow access to one another's fairly important patents. On the other hand, if Motorola agrees to license their patents under FRAND terms in order to become part of the standard, and Apple decides to keep their patents proprietary to gain competitive advantage, a blanket cross-license wouldn't be a fair deal to Apple.

Source: EU court documents here, Bloomberg

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Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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