May 20, 2012 / 4:52 PM / in 5 years

China approves Google's Motorola deal

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Sunday it had granted conditional approval to Google’s plans to acquire Motorola Mobility Holdings(MMI.N), clearing the last regulatory obstacle to a deal that will help the search company’s plans to develop its own smart phones.

A Motorola Droid phone is seen displaying the Google search page in New York August 15, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Files

The approval, which Google (GOOG.O) had announced on Saturday, comes nearly eight months after the application for the $12.5 billion purchase was submitted and requires that the No.1 search company keep its Android operating system free and open for at least five years.

“At the end of the five years, the Ministry of Commerce will continue to assess the state of the Chinese smart phone operating system market,” said a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

Google’s Android software is the top operating system for Internet-enabled smart phones.

The company wants phone-maker Motorola for its 17,000 patents and 7,500 patent applications, as it looks to compete with rivals such as Apple Inc. (AAPL.O) and defend itself and Android phone manufacturers in patent litigation.

U.S. and European regulators approved the deal in February.

Reporting by Don Durfee; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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