Almunia Says EU Probe on Google Patents Differs From U.S.

European Union regulators continue to probe Google Inc. over Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.’s use of injunctions to prevent rivals using key patents, despite the end of a similar U.S. case, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said today.

“The situation in the European market and in the cases we are dealing with in Europe is not the same,” Almunia told reporters after an event in London.

Google is being investigated by the EU for seeking and enforcing injunctions for standards-essential patents against Apple’s iPhone and iPad and Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system and Xbox gaming console, following complaints by the two companies. In a separate probe into allegations that Google discriminates against rivals in its search results, the EU last month asked the company to submit concessions that may lead to a settlement.

The U.S. ended an investigation into Google’s search business and earlier this month when the Mountain View, California-based company agreed to lift court injunctions for patents it inherited from Motorola Mobility when it acquired the company last year.

EU regulators are also investigating Google’s Android operating system, Almunia said last year. That probe won’t be covered by a settlement in the search case, Almunia told the Financial Times in an interview published yesterday.

Almunia said in December that regulators are “dissatisfied” every time they see companies request court injunctions to block the use of patents that are part of an industry standard.

Al Verney, a spokesman for Google in Brussels, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Samsung Electronics Co. received antitrust objections from the EU last month, days after it said it would withdraw such injunctions that sought to block sales of Apple products. The EU is probing whether Samsung violated agreements to license key patents to other mobile-phone manufacturers on fair terms.

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