Regulators in the U.S. and E.U. on
Monday approved Google's $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola,
saying that the deal was not likely to substantially lessen
competition in the smartphone and computer industries.
The decisions remove critical hurdles for Google's largest ever purchase which is seen as critical to the web software giant's attempts to compete with Apple.
However, Google still needs to get the deal past regulators in China, Taiwan and Israel, while U.S. and European regulators stressed that they would keep careful watch on how Google utilizes Motorola Mobility's trove of 17,000 patents, especially the so-called Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) that are crucial to the entire market, and which must by law be licensed to competitors under reasonable terms.
"We have approved the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google because, upon careful examination, this transaction does not itself raise competition issues," said Joaquín Almunia, European Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy. "Of course, the Commission will continue to keep a close eye on the behaviour of all market players in the sector, particularly the increasingly strategic use of patents."
The U.S. Justice Department said that the transactions "are not likely to substantially lessen competition."
But it said Google's promises on SEPs were "ambiguous" and promised that the antitrust division would "not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action to stop any anti-competitive use of SEP rights."
Critics of the deal had also voiced concern that Google would use the acquisition to discriminate against other companies which make phones running Google's Android operating system, which powers more than 250 million devices.
Google is expected to use the Motorola patents to defend itself in an increasingly bitter patent war with Apple, which has sued makers of Android devices in the US, Europe and Asia for patent violations.
Google has also been reported to be working on its own entertainment device that would stream content throughout users homes, and which could be significantly boosted by the expertise in set-top boxes and other device manufacturing that Motorola Mobility possesses.
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