The Federal Trade Commission apparently has Apple’s back in the company’s battle with Google over standard-essential patents (SEP). The FTC argues that any attempt to ban a product for allegedly infringing an SEP “risks harming competition, innovation, and consumers.”
In an amicus brief filed late Wednesday with the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the trade agency argued that a district court was right to dismiss a request by Google’s Motorola Mobility division for an injunction against sales of the iPhone and iPad in the United States.
The patents Motorola was attempting to assert were SEPs, which they are under obligation to license on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. In the FTCs view, the threat of SEP-based injunctions in order to demand higher royalties or favorable licensing terms is just bad business. A “patent hold-up,” to quote the term the agency used.
“Hold-up and the threat of hold-up can deter innovation by increasing costs and uncertainty for other industry participants, including those engaged in inventive activity,” the FTC said in its brief. “It can also distort investment and harm consumers by breaking the connection between the value of an invention and its reward — a connection that is the cornerstone of the patent system.”
This isn’t the first time the FTC has sounded-off on SEP-driven lawsuits and Google’s efforts to use them. In June the agency told the International Trade Commission that Google’s request for import bans against Microsoft’s Xbox and Apple’s iPhone for their alleged infringement of SEPs could hurt competition.
Google and Apple have not made statements regarding the FTC brief.