European Commission investigating Samsung, Apple patent fight

European Commission investigating Samsung, Apple patent fightThe European Commission has confirmed that it's making antitrust inquiries with both Apple and Samsung in relation to their ongoing patent battle. The Commission itself declined to make further comment on the issue aside from stating that "requests for information are standard procedure in antitrust investigations," though Apple's legal filings in the US have indicated that the investigation is over Samsung's alleged abuse of "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory" (FRAND) licensing agreements.

The Commission's investigation was first reported by FOSS Patents on Thursday, which highlighted the paragraph within Apple's US filings that pointed to the probe. "Samsung has sued Apple for infringement and injunctions in no fewer than eight countries outside the United States," Apple wrote. "Indeed, Samsung's litigation campaign and other conduct related to its Declared-Essential Patents is so egregious that the European Commission recently has opened an investigation to determine whether Samsung's behavior violates EU competition laws."

The EC followed up with a brief public statement on Friday, not directly acknowledging the purpose of its investigation, but confirming that one was indeed in progress. "The Commission has indeed sent requests for information to Apple and Samsung concerning the enforcement of standards-essential patents in the mobile telephony sector. Such requests for information are standard procedure in antitrust investigations to allow the Commission to establish the relevant facts in a case. We have no other comments at this stage," the Commission said.

We have discussed how Samsung's strategy of suing Apple over the company's use of 3G technologies might backfire. The 3G patents in question are typically licensed under FRAND agreements, wherein standards-setting organizations agree to use patented technologies from companies involved in the standards-setting process under "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory" terms. Samsung claims that other manufacturers have licensed these patents while Apple has not, but Apple claims that Samsung never made any offer to license the patents to Apple on FRAND or any other terms.

The EU doesn't generally look kindly upon suing over FRAND-encumbered patents, so it's no surprise that the EC is now looking into the situation. And given Steve Jobs' strong conviction on fighting what Apple sees as rip-offs of its own designs, we don't expect Apple to back down anytime soon when it comes to defending itself against Samsung.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Apple, EU, legal action, Samsung

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