Google, U.S. regulators close to deal in patents dispute: sources

Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:18pm EST
 
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By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are near a settlement with Google Inc in a dispute over the search giant's efforts to stop the sale of products it says infringe essential patents, according to two sources close to the probe.

But the Federal Trade Commission is not expected to reach a deal soon on the larger, more contentious issue of whether Google tweaks its search results to disadvantage rivals in travel, shopping and other specialized searches.

Its rivals say Google fears the specialized sites will siphon away its most lucrative advertising and the revenue that goes with it.

Under the expected settlement, which could be announced this week or next, Google will be required to drop demands for injunctions in lawsuits filed using a special class of patents called standard essential patents, or SEPs, the sources said.

SEPs ensure, for example, that one brand of wireless phone can call another brand.

There would be an exception to the injunction ban, however. Google would be allowed to request injunctions if companies refuse to negotiate SEP licensing at all, the sources said.

SEPs are usually expected to be broadly licensed for a reasonable price. One view is that if a company convinces a standard-setting organization to name its patent as the standard, that company should be barred from asking for an injunction if there is infringement.

The larger investigation, which is more than a year old, addresses search bias as well as smaller items that aggravate Google's rivals in Silicon Valley and beyond.   Continued...

 
A neon Google logo is seen as employees work at the new Google office in Toronto, November 13, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch