It was announced on Wednesday that after disputing over the patents obtained from Motorola, Google have at last agreed a final settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
Competitors had accused Google of refusing to license standards-essential patents known as FRAND patents. These are an important part of any industry and anyone holding FRAND patents is obligated to license them on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory terms.
Google have been accused of not engaging in good faith negotiations and of using FRAND patents to obtain injunctions, banning them from the market. In response, Google claimed that rival companies had refused to pay reasonable terms.
The settlement reached between Google and the FTC, contain terms that create an arbitration scheme, thereby making it harder for Google to threaten the use of injunctions.
A key part of the letter explaining the ruling said:
The order strikes a balance. It enables Google and implementers to negotiate a FRAND rate while protecting both parties from opportunistic behavior that is inconsistent with the FRAND agreement. An implementer can negotiate licensing terms without facing the threat of an injunction, but Google is not barred from responding to an implementer that misuses the protections in the order to delay rather than facilitate entering into a FRAND license.
Google made the acquisition in late 2011 for $12.5 billion. It was hoped that the acquisition, including the patents, would help Google counter-attack intellectual properties launched by rivals like Microsoft, but instead they have been more of a hindrance as Google have often faced regulatory trouble.
Of course this case is just a drop in the ocean when it comes to the global fight over smartphone patents, driven by the US patent system run amok.
[Image via theverge]