Google (NSDQ: GOOG) will renew some old acquaintances at the U.S. Department of Justice before its Motorola (NYSE: MMI) deal is allowed to pass. The company announced Wednesday that the government has asked for “more information” about certain aspects of the $12.5 billion deal, which would bring one of the leading Android smartphone vendors under Google’s wing.
This isn’t too surprising. Google has been under close antitrust scrutiny for years now, especially when it comes to its various acquisitions. AdMob and ITA Software were just two recent deals that met with government scrutiny, and Congress recently hauled Google Chairman Eric Schmidt before a committee hearing on Google’s standards and practices.
But it’s still an obstacle. “Today we received what is called a ‘second request,’ which means that the DOJ is asking for more information so that they can continue to review the deal.” Google said in a blog post. “While this means we won’t be closing right away, we’re confident that the DOJ will conclude that the rapidly growing mobile ecosystem will remain highly competitive after this deal closes.”
The Motorola deal, of course, involves a number of interesting angles. Chief among them is the patent debacle that Android partners have found themselves in during 2011, which only got worse Wednesday with the announcement that Samsung has agreed to license patents from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) related to mobile technology. But now that Android is the leading smartphone operating system in the U.S., the government could also be worried that Google’s embrace of Motorola might limit competition in the smartphone market.
No matter what, the move will delay the closing of the deal by several months. And that could be a problem for both Google and Motorola: Google needs Motorola’s patents, and Motorola faces a challenging environment that only increased in complexity with the launch of the Kindle Fire.