U.S. and EU antitrust authorities have approved Google’s proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility. In a pair of announcements made just hours apart, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the European Commission (EC) each announced that the deal had been cleared by their respective antitrust authorities and could proceed.
“This is an important milestone in the approval process and it moves us closer to closing the deal,” Google said of the decisions. “We are now just waiting for decisions from a few other jurisdictions before we can close this transaction.”
Before becoming finalized, the deal will still need to be cleared by regulators in Israel, Taiwan, and China.
The rulings put Google on the brink of completing its landmark acquisition. In addition to providing the company with a mobile hardware branch, the deal will also allow Google to take control of key patents in the mobile hardware space.
While the DOJ and EC both signed off the deal, officials were quick to note that the company would continue to face scrutiny over possible antitrust violations.
“We have approved the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google because, upon careful examination, this transaction does not itself raise competition issues,” said EC vice president in charge of competition policy Joaquin Almunia. “Of course, the Commission will continue to keep a close eye on the behaviour of all market players in the sector, particularly the increasingly strategic use of patents.”
Along with approving the deal between Google and Motorola, the DOJ signed off on the proposed purchase of Nortel’s patent holdings by a group which includes Apple and Microsoft.
Such patents have played a central role in the ongoing legal battles each company has waged against vendors of Android products.
As with their European counterparts, U.S. officials vowed to keep a close eye on proceedings as the Google deal went forward.
“The division’s concerns about the potential anticompetitive use of standard essential patents (SEP) was lessened by the clear commitments by Apple and Microsoft to license SEPs on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, as well as their commitments not to seek injunctions in disputes involving SEPs,” the DOJ said in a statement. “Google’s commitments were more ambiguous and do not provide the same direct confirmation of its SEP licensing policies.”