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Google promises fair licensing after closing Motorola acquisition

Google sends letter to IEEE promising fair licensing treatment governing Motorola patents.

Add "fair" to Google's famous "Do no evil" promise.

In a letter to the IEEE standards organization today, the company sought to undercut concerns of potential licensees after Google closes its proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings. The general thrust of the 13-point missive was to send the message that yes, Google will accord fair treatment to all comers, and no, it will not show bias toward makers of Android handsets.

Google promised to license patents held by Motorola Mobility, also known as MMI patents, on "reasonable terms and conditions that are demonstrably free of any unfair discrimination," assuming that its planned merger closes.

"Therefore, this letter is intended to assure you and any potential licensees that, following Google's acquisition of MMI, Google will honor MMI's existing commitments to license the acquired MMI Essential Patent Claims on RAND terms, as required by IEEE rules and consistent with MMI's longstanding practice," Google's deputy general counsel Allen Lo wrote. "This letter is irrevocable."

Lo indicated that Google intended to conform with rules established over the years by the IEEE governing "transparency and consistency in licensing practices" and said that the "acquisition of IVIIVII will not disturb those goals or otherwise adversely affect the IEEE, its members, or the implementers or consumers of its standards."

RAND, sometimes referred to as "Frand," is an acronym for fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory." Of late, it has featured as a courtroom tactic in patent disputes around the world, including the escalating feud between Apple and myriad Android handset manufacturers. After a German court ruled that the iPhone and iPad violated 3G patents held by Motorola Mobility, Apple charged Motorola with violating Frand standards and was able to win a temporary reprieve.