EU and US Justice Department approves Google’s Motorola acquisition

European Union officials gave Google regulatory approval for its acquisition of Motorola Mobility today. The deal has just gained approval from the US Justice Department too.

“We have approved the acquisition… because upon careful examination, this transaction does not itself raise competition issues,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement, according to Reuters. Google’s $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola is driven largely by the device maker’s portfolio of 17,000 patents, which Google hopes to use to protect Android from patent lawsuits, and perhaps launch a few lawsuits of its own.

The possibility that Google might abuse this patent portfolio was not worrying enough to lead the EU to block the merger. But Almunia said European authorities reserve the right to monitor Google’s handling of the patents, and they reserve the right to reopen their inquiries based on future actions. “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,” Reuters quotes him as telling reporters.

When Google announced the acquisition, it expected to close the deal by the end of 2011 or early 2012. Just hours after the European Commission announced their approval of Google’s $12.5 billion Motorola purchase, the United States Department of Justice has announced that they too have given the deal their blessing.

According to Reuters, the Department of Justice will continue to keep their eyes on Google to ensure that “essential patents” will be licensed fairly.