Google just got one step closer to finalizing its acquisition of Motorola Mobility with approval from the 27-member European Union. Google still needs approval from the U.S. and China, as well as a few other key jurisdictions, before it can bring Motorola into the fold, but at the moment things are looking rosy for the Big G.
The EU did express some hesitations about the deal, however. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia had this to say in a statement to the press:
"This merger decision should not and will not mean that we are not concerned by the possibility that, once Google is the owner of this portfolio, Google can abuse these patents, linking some patents with its Android devices. This is our worry."
Given how tense the world of software patent lawsuits is today, it's not unreasonable that the EU would have some reservations. In fact, Motorola's substantial patent portfolio seems to be the largest reason Google would be interested in buying the company. Google has promised to continue to operate Motorola as a largely independent entity, as well as promising to give other smartphone manufacturers a fair shot at the Nexus program, so defending Android via Motorola's patents seems to be one of the primary advantages of the $12.5 billion purchase.
Of course, if the U.S., China, or any of the other jurisdictions that Google still needs approval from objects, this may all be moot. Still, the EU represents a huge victory for Google.