Google’s bid for Motorola (NYSE: MMI) is likely to get a thumbs up from the U.S. Department of Justice, but still could face opposition from other regulators both in the U.S. and in Europe. The landmark $12.5 billion deal is essential for Google’s attempts to play defense in the mobile patent wars, as the DOJ is also likely to finally sign off on the results of the Nortel patent auction that kicked off Google’s desperate bid.
The Wall Street Journal, citing those all-knowing “people familiar with the matter,” said the DOJ might approve the deal as early as next week. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has pledged to operate Motorola as a standalone company, and so the government’s main focus on Google has been whether or not it will use the patents acquired from Motorola in an offensive fashion.
Mobile rivals are already complaining that Google plans to uphold Motorola’s patent-licensing strategies on what have been deemed “essential” patents by asking for a royalty rate above what they consider fair as well as its willingness to leave the threat of an injunction on the table, which other companies have pledged not to employ for standards-essential patents. The report said regulators will watch closely to see how Google uses the Motorola patents post-acquisition.
And in related news, the DOJ plans to approve the $4.5 billion purchase of Nortel’s patent portfolio by a group of mobile companies that included Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), and Research in Motion (NSDQ: RIMM), denying Google a chance to solidify its patent holdings for far less money than it will pay for Motorola. That event prompted Google to open talks with Motorola and to lash out at its rivals for playing the patent game more effectively than Google.