The European Commission has just cleared Google's $12.5 billion buyout of Motorola Mobility. With a likely approval of the same merger on the way from the US Justice Department, Google now needs the consent of China, Israel, and Taiwan to close the deal.
EU Commission Vice President Joaquín Almunia says that "this transaction does not itself raise competition issues," but that the Commission is keeping a close eye on the behavior of players in the mobile market, "particularly the increasingly strategic use of patents." If the transaction gains final approval from all parties, Google will acquire a substantial catalog of mobile patents — patents that are the focus of scrutiny in Motorola's various FRAND-related lawsuits. Google has already tried to get ahead of licensing concerns by promising to license Motorola's patents after the acquisition is completed (as is already required under FRAND), but it says it still reserves the right to file for injunctions against companies that don't accept Google's terms.