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Apple asks EU to formally investigate Motorola for alleged FRAND abuse

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Apple has requested a formal investigation into whether Motorola is violating its FRAND obligations in Europe.

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Motorola Mobility has confirmed that Apple filed a complaint with the EU Commission, requesting an investigation into whether Motorola is violating its obligations to license its standards-essential patents to Apple under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The EU Commission recently opened a formal investigation into whether Samsung broke EU antitrust rules by refusing to fairly license wireless patents essential to the 3G standard, but this is the first we've heard of the potential for a formal inquiry into Motorola's practices.

Apple and Motorola are currently involved in escalating patent disputes around the world, including Europe — where Motorola has demanded a maximum royalty of 2.25 percent on the sales of devices like the iPhone. Apple has refused Motorola's demand as excessive, which might mean court or government intervention is the only viable option remaining to end the standoff over FRAND licensing obligations in the immediate future.

Apple's EU investigation request is a relatively new development, so we don't know exactly how the Commission will respond. However, their recent interest in Samsung's FRAND licensing practices in the region may signal that Motorola is next up for review.