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Google/FTC deal will affect future technology patent disputes

FTC says the settlement creates a “template” for other standard essential patent holders

Last week, Google Inc. and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reached a settlement that put an end to the FTC’s antitrust investigation of the technology giant. Part of the agreement dealt with how Google can use its patents—provisions that may have an effect on other technology patent holders and licensees.

The FTC accused Google of failing to license its standard essential patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. Standard essential patents are patents held on inventions that must be used to conform to certain industry standards. As part of the settlement, Google will drop some of its claims for injunctive relief in patent disputes with competitors and accept the judgment of the court for any payment disputes that crop up.

On Thursday, the FTC said this deal could serve as a “template” for other patent holders, Thomson Reuters reports. Though the settlement isn’t binding to other companies, defendants could use it to argue against injunctions from standard essential patent holders.

But, as always in this life, things are not that simple. The FTC settlement still allows Google to seek injunctions against licensees who are unwilling to accept fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. What exactly constitutes an unwilling licensee remains to be seen, but could end up being manipulated by standard essential patent holders.

Whatever happens, this deal is certainly going to shake things up in the technology patent world.


Read more InsideCounsel coverage of standard essential patents:

How Apple v. Motorola could alter patent litigation

Technology: Standard adopters need to beware of injunctions

Technology: Can reasonable and nondiscriminatory licensing terms follow a purchased patent?

IP acquisitions and antitrust

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