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December 27, 2012

Samsung Receives Formal Antitrust Complaint

By Ashok Bindra, TMCnet Contributor

On December 21st, Bloomberg (News - Alert) News reported that the European Union's (EU) executive body has formally sent a complaint to South Koran consumer electronics giant Samsung for misusing standard-essential patents as legal weapons to gain a foothold in legal disputes against iPhone maker Apple (News - Alert). In fact, the charges came a day after the European Commission (EC) issued a statement saying it would officially charge Samsung with antitrust allegations.

Additionally, Apple Insider reported that EC’s concern is Samsung's (News - Alert) misuse of declared essential wireless patents against Apple in multiple EU countries, as well as internationally. With such tactics, Samsung was hoping to get a sales ban on Apple products like the iPhone (News - Alert).

As a result, on Tuesday Samsung dropped lawsuits involving its industry essential patents in five European countries. However, a number of such patent related cases are still active. In a statement, European Commissioner for Competition Joaquín Almunia, said,  "Intellectual property rights are an important cornerstone of the single market. However, such rights should not be misused when they are essential to implement industry standards, which bring huge benefits to businesses and consumers alike. When companies have contributed their patents to an industry standard and have made a commitment to license the patents in return for fair remuneration, then the use of injunctions against willing licensees can be anti-competitive."

The EU is investigating whether Samsung violated its duty to license the standard-essential patents (SEP) to rival smartphone makers under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.In another statement by Samsung, the South Korean electronics giant said, “We are studying the statement and will firmly defend ourselves against any misconceived allegations. We will continue to fully cooperate with the Commission. It is confident that in due course the Commission will conclude that we have acted in compliance with European Union competition laws.” In a separate statement, obtained by The Verge, Samsung defended its legal action against the iPhone maker as Apple was unwilling to negotiate licensing agreements for the patents in question. In this statement, the South Korean electronics giant hinted that it is committed to licensing SEP on FRAND terms. Meanwhile, as per the report, the EC is now waiting for Samsung to review the antitrust complaint and submit a response.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

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