European Commission OKs Google-Motorola Deal, But Will Remain “Vigilant”

While Google waits for the United States Department of Justice to sign off on their proposal to merge with handset maker Motorola Mobility, the European Commission has officially given the deal their approval.

The decision is a welcome one for the folks in Mountain View, as the European Commission initially showed some hesitance about the matter. When first tasked with reviewing the $12.5 billion transaction, members of the commission called to Google to provide additional information to support their cause. What’s more, a U.S. consumer advocacy group publicly called on the commission to strike the merger, citing fears of a Google-dominated mobile space.

According to Commission Vice President Joaquín Almunia, the acquisition was approved because “upon careful examination, this transaction does not itself raise competition issues.” That isn’t to say that the commission can now wash their hands of the matter, as they still plan to keep their eyes on the actions of major wireless players.

“Of course, the Commission will continue to keep a close eye on the behaviour of all market players in the sector,” he went on to say. “Particularly the increasingly strategic use of patents.”

That last bit is terribly important given the fierce patents wars that Google, Apple, and other mobile companies are waging the world over. Should the Google-Motorola deal go through, the folks in Mountain View will find themselves in possession of Motorola’s 17,000 patents and nearly 8,000 pending applications — a considerable addition to their existing arsenal that could allow them to more vigorously defend against lawsuits lobbed at them by competitors.

Google could use those patents for more than just defending themselves, and that still has the commission on edge. Almunia expressed concern to reporters that Google could abuse their new treasure trove of patents, and noted that while their concerns weren’t enough to warrant block the merger, they would be “vigilant” going forward.

Meanwhile, Google VP and Deputy General Counsel Don Harrison took to the official Google Blog today to celebrate the commission’s decision, and to remind users that closing the deal will “supercharge Android.”

“The combination of Google and Motorola Mobility will help supercharge Android,” he said. “It will also enhance competition and offer consumers faster innovation, greater choice and wonderful user experiences.”

With Europe signing off on the deal, and legislators in the United States expected to do the same in short order, Google must wait for official approval from China, Israel, and Taiwan before everything can be finalized.