The Washington Post

Pity Google? Patent loss to Apple could spell relief in antitrust: analyst

An Android smartphone displays the Google website in this picture illustration in Seoul September 7, 2011. (TRUTH LEEM/REUTERS)

Pity Google? One upside for the Android software maker in Apple’s patent victory over partner Samsung is how that decision could spill over to a federal antitrust investigation into Google, according to one analyst.

Google is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission over broad antitrust claims, including the company’s potential to lock down its search and other applications on smartphones that run its Android operating system. The firm is negotiating with European regulators on ways to change its practices in search to make the market more competitive.

Now that a jury determined Apple indeed has exclusive rights to some key technologies on the smartphone, the FTC may rethink its position on Google’s dominance in mobile search — a part of the agency’s investigation, according to reports by The Wall Street Journal.

“Apple’s patent victory on Friday has the potential to raise the cost of Android devices or perhaps even give Apple exclusive use of certain features or designs of handsets. The Obama Administration has been active promoting tech sector competition and has particularly focused on the risk that patent lawsuits present for mobile Internet competition,” said Paul Gallant, an analyst at Guggenheim Partners research in D.C.

“So we think the prospect of Apple becoming even stronger in mobile - along with Verizon’s recent effort to rein in the power of Android and Apple by pushing Windows Mobile - should reduce the chance of the FTC deciding to impose new limits on Google’s Android business,” Gallant said.

The European Union and FTC are both expected to settle with Google instead of suing the firm, Gallant and other analysts say. The EU is expected to announce a settlement as early as September and the FTC before the end of the year.


Google facing force of aggressive European regulators

E.U. says Google violated four areas of antitrust

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.



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