Justice Department OKs Google's bid for Motorola

The Justice Department says it doesn't believe that Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility will affect competition.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

The U.S. Department of Justice has approved Google's $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility.

The news today comes on the same day that the European Union concluded its antitrust investigation into the merger and approved the deal without any conditions.

The Justice Department said in a statement that it had closed the investigations it had open regarding the merger, stating that the acquisition would be "unlikely to substantially lessen competition."

The main reason Google is buying Motorola is to get access to the company's big patent portfolio. And the Justice Department concluded in its investigations that it was unlikely that Google would use these patents to "raise rivals' costs or foreclose competition."

Now that regulators have approved the merger, Google will be able to move forward to close the transaction.

In addition to approving Motorola's transfer of patents to Google, the Justice Department also approved the transfer of patents from the bankrupt communications equipment maker Nortel Networks to a consortium of companies known as Rockstar Bidco. This consortium consisting of Research In Motion, Microsoft, and Apple was formed in June at the Nortel bankruptcy auction. And it acquired some 6,000 patents from Nortel.

And finally the Justice Department said it approved Apple's acquisition of patents from CPTN Holdings, a company formerly owned by Novell.

"The division concluded that the specific transactions at issue are not likely to significantly change existing market dynamics," the Justice Department said in its statement.

The Justice Department added that during its investigation, Google, Apple, and Microsoft made commitments that they would license their newly acquired intellectual property on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The companies also promised to not seek injunctions in disputes involving these patents.

Still, the Justice Department said that it will continue to monitor the market. This is a similar statement to the one that the European regulators made earlier today regarding Google's acquisition of Motorola patents.

"In light of the importance of this industry to consumers and the complex issues raised by the intersection of the intellectual property rights and antitrust law at issue here, as well as uncertainty as to the exercise of the acquired rights, the division continues to monitor the use of SEPs in the wireless device industry, particularly in the smartphone and computer tablet markets," the Justice Department said. "The division will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action to stop any anticompetitive use of SEP rights."

Updated 2:53 pm PT:This story was updated with additional background information and details from the Justice Department's press release.