The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Google’s Motorola division is honoring its agreements to license industry-standard patents on fair and reasonable terms, according to a Bloomberg report.
“The FTC has issued a civil investigative demand, which is similar to a subpoena, to the owner of the Android mobile operating system as it scrutinizes whether Google is improperly blocking rivals’ access to patents for key smartphone technology,” according to Bloomberg, which cites people familiar with the situation in its report.
The FTC is also gathering information from Microsoft, Apple and other companies as it looks into the issue, the report says.
Microsoft and Motorola have been battling it out in courts worldwide — including in Seattle — over patents. In one case, Microsoft contends Motorola was not offering certain of its industry-standard patents on fair and reasonable terms, as it agreed to do.
Industry-standard patents — patents held by individual companies that are part of technologies that have become standard in the industry — have become a hotspot in the battles between tech companies. Microsoft, Motorola, Apple, Samsung and other companies are waging patent wars, with potential import bans at stake.
Various tech companies, including Microsoft, as well as with the FTC, have said they oppose import bans based on industry-standard patents.