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Justice Dept, EU Approve Google’s Motorola Purchase

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The US government and the European Commission today gave the green light to Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola (NYSE: MMI) Mobility. The decision confirms that Google (NSDQ: GOOG) will have access to Motorola’s patent portfolio as it locks horns with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) in a series of smartphone and tablet lawsuits.

The price tag of the Motorola deal raised eyebrows when Google announced it last August, but the search giant likely felt it had no choice after a consortium of rivals snapped up the patent portfolio of the bankrupt telecom company Nortel.

With the Motorola acquisition, Google gained 17,000 patents and 7,500 pending applications. It has been using some of them to harass Apple in Germany.

Although the deal had been expected to receive European regulatory approval, there have been doubts in recent weeks amidst allegations that Google was using so-called FRAND patents in an anti-competitive manner (FRAND patents involve industry-wide technical standards and are supposed to be licensed on “fair and reasonable” terms.)

In its ruling, announced early this afternoon, the EC stated it would monitor the smartphone industry to ensure participants complied with anti-trust rules.

The Justice Department followed with a separate approval ruling late in the afternoon. The ruling also said it would it monitor Google and its competitors to ensure they didn’t abuse standard-related patents.