The European Commission said Monday that Motorola Mobility may have abused its dominant market position by denying Apple the right to use technology essential for mobile phones.
It is a violation of European Union antitrust rules for a patent holder to deny use to technologically essential patents to companies willing to pay a fair and reasonable price for their use. Motorola Mobility, which Google bought in August 2011, obtained a court injunction preventing Apple from using certain patented technologies considered "standard-essential" for the industry.
"The protection of intellectual property is a cornerstone of innovation and growth. But so is competition," said Joaquin Almunia, the European Union's competition commissioner. "I think that companies should spend their time innovating and competing on the merits of the products they offer — not misusing their intellectual property rights to hold up competitors to the detriment of innovation and consumer choice."
The preliminary finding, while not a conclusion that any wrong has been done, could in the end lead to formal anti-trust charges.
European Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said that — if it were concluded that Motorola Mobility had misused its market position, and if a fine were to be imposed — any such fine would be paid by Motorola Mobility rather than by Google. He said most of the activity that may have violated antitrust rules took place before Google acquired the company.