Hours after the European Union approved Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility, the Department of Justice offered its stamp of approval as well, closing its investigation into the deal on Monday.
The DOJ also approved efforts by Apple, Microsoft and Research in Motion to acquire patents from Nortel Networks, a Canadian telecom manufacturer mired in bankruptcy.
In a statement, the DOJ said its Antitrust Division “determined that each acquisition is unlikely to substantially lessen competition and has closed these three investigations. In all of the transactions, the division conducted an in-depth analysis into the potential ability and incentives of the acquiring firms to use the patents they proposed acquiring to foreclose competitors.”
Besides acquiring a major manufacturer of Android phones, Google's main motivation in this deal is to acquire Motorola's 17,000-plus patents.
Also read: European Union Approves Google-Motorola Deal
Patents have become a major source of contention and legal disputes in the telecom field, with the likes of Apple and Samsung hoping to protect their products (and control the market).
The DOJ said its concerns about the “potential anti-competitive use” of patents were alleviated by commitments from the various companies to be fair and reasonable in licensing the patents. It found that Google was less clear about its commitment to fairness.
Google’s purchase of Motorola has now cleared its two biggest hurdles — the EU and U.S. – in the same day, but it still faces cases in China, Israel and Taiwan.
Google has the rockiest relationship with China, where the government's censorship of the Internet has engendered conflict. Were China to reject the deal, it would present serious problems for Motorola, which has manufacturing factories there.