US approves Google’s $12.5 billion bid for Motorola

Google’s buyout of Motorola Mobility has cleared two major hurdles. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced late Monday afternoon that Google’s bid to buy Motorola for $12.5 billion does not violate antitrust laws, and will be allowed to proceed. Earlier in the day, the European Union also approved the deal.

In addition to the Google’s bid for Motorola, the DoJ also approved Apple’s request to buy a cache of Novell patents, as well as acquisition of about 6,000 Nortel Networks patents by a consortium of companies that includes Apple, Microsoft, and Research In Motion.

“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,” wrote the DoJ in a statement.

Google’s purchase of Motorola is, for the most part, a patent buy. Motorola owns 17,000 patents related to mobile technology that Google needs to fight back against the likes of Apple and others. In a post on the Official Google Blog, Google Vice President and Deputy Council Don Harrison said the purchase of Motorola “will help supercharge Android. It will also enhance competition and offer consumers faster innovation, greater choice and wonderful user experiences.”

Through its six-month investigation, the DoJ concluded that there was little potential anticompetitive use of standard essential patents (SEPs) purchased in all three deals based on “the clear commitments by Apple and Microsoft to license SEPs on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, as well as their commitments not to seek injunctions in disputes involving SEPs.” Google also “made commitments” to fairly use and license its SEPs.  

While Google’s Android mobile operating system is already used on hundreds of millions of handsets around the world, the company has not yet produced a handset of its own. The purchase of Motorola would serve as Google’s foray into the consumer technology hardware arena.

In order to finalize its Motorola buy, Google must now gain approval from the governments of China, Israel and Taiwan. According to the Associated Press, approval from China may prove to be the most difficult step in the regulatory process due to Google’s tumultuous relationship with the Chinese government, which Google last year accused of tampering with its Gmail service.

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