European Commission slaps Samsung with formal antitrust complaint

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
The European Union's executive body on Friday formally accused Samsung of abusing its dominant market position to gain a foothold in legal disputes being waged against Apple, a complaint the South Korean electronics giant tried to avoid by pulling out of such litigation in Europe.

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Just one day after the European Commission issued a statement saying it would officially charge Samsung with antitrust allegations, the body announced that it had sent a formal complaint to the company regarding the potential misuse of standard-essential patents as legal weapons, reports Bloomberg.

At issue is Samsung's use of declared essential wireless patents which were asserted against Apple in multiple EU countries, as well as internationally, in a bid to garner sales bans of products like the iPhone. Samsung dropped suits involving the industry essential patents in five European countries on Tuesday, though a number of cases still remain active.

"Intellectual property rights are an important cornerstone of the single market," said Joaqu?n Almunia, the European Commissioner for Competition. "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."

Joaqu?n Almunia
Joaqu?n Almunia speaking at the European Commission in Brussels. | Source: European Commission


The EU is investigating whether Samsung violated its duty to license the standard-essential patents to rival phone makers under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

?We are studying the statement and will firmly defend ourselves against any misconceived allegations,? Samsung said in a statement. ?We will continue to fully cooperate with the commission." The company added that 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 explains how it had no choice but to commit to legal action against Apple as the iPhone maker was reportedly unwilling to negotiate licensing agreements for the patents in question.
Samsung has been and remains committed to licensing our standard essential patents (SEP) on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. Samsung had no choice but to seek injunctions based on SEPs due to Apple's unwillingness to enter into good-faith negotiations and to defend ourselves against Apple which sued us first.

No injunctions have been granted against Apple in any EU Member State and we already decided to withdraw our injunction requests against Apple on the basis of our SEPs pending in European courts. We will continue to fully cooperate with the Commission and are confident that in due course the Commission will conclude that we have acted in full compliance with EU competition laws.
The Commission will now wait for Samsung to review the complaint and offer a response. If the company refuses to negotiate with the regulatory body, or the parties fail to reach an amicable agreement, the EU could levy fines of up to ten percent of Samsung's annual "worldwide turnover" as well as other sanctions in a final decision.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,525member
    Mail gauntlets are good for slapping.
  • Reply 3 of 34
    Shouldn't America be doing the same to Apple, then? Rounded corners are patented and no one really cares.
  • Reply 4 of 34
    jpadhiyar wrote: »
    Shouldn't America be doing the same to Apple, then? Rounded corners are patented and no one really cares.

    Um, yeah. Thanks for playing. Which industry standard did Apple volunteer to license "rounded corners" for? Thousands of guys with Tourette's are thinking, "Wow, that was a spastic response".
  • Reply 5 of 34
    Simple - the iPad design patent isn't a standard essential patent.
  • Reply 6 of 34

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by LarryA View Post





    Um, yeah. Thanks for playing. Which industry standard did Apple volunteer to license "rounded corners" for? Thousands of guys with Tourette's are thinking, "Wow, that was a spastic response".


     


    Exactly. Apple has used only it's design and preparatory patents.. None of which are standard (FRAND) patents.. The rounded corners thing is silly in any case. It's not 'rounded corners' that are patented.. it''s amazing how stupid is as stupid does.. It's the design package, the complete look/feel .. You don't see many phones on their to sue list for that design patent because the total look/feel of the design is different on most of the phones out there.. example is HTC.. most of it's phones have rounded corners, but Apples design patent has like 20 elements total that the phone would have to 'emulate' completely to violate that design patent. 


     


    All Samsung had to do was avoid several of those elements (or change them after Apple asked them to) so it didn't look like an iPhone in total.. I admit, they 'stretched' the limits on some of their claims with a few of the phones say they looked like an iPhone (Galaxy S2 was pushing it). I suspect their lawyers, like many lawyers, probably decided to throw spaghetti at the wall to see what stuck. lol


     


    Samsung 'media' machine just focused on that one design element of the design patent to drum up sympathy, and many, bought into it.. Not fully understanding design patents or truly researching for themselves. Simple as that.

  • Reply 7 of 34
    jpadhiyar wrote: »
    Shouldn't America be doing the same to Apple, then? Rounded corners are patented and no one really cares.

    Another troll? Or are you just too stupid to understand the difference between design patent and FRAND?
  • Reply 8 of 34
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    "Samsung has been and remains committed to licensing our standard essential patents (SEP) on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. Samsung had no choice but to seek injunctions based on SEPs due to Apple's unwillingness to enter into good-faith negotiations and to defend ourselves against Apple which sued us first."


     


    So why the f*ck did Samsung seek to revoke the existing license agreements to the patents Apple already had with 3rd party chipmakers, you lying, sleaze bag f*cks?

  • Reply 9 of 34
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member


    Apple: Once their motto was "To make a dent in the universe".


     


    No Longer.


     


    image


     


     

  • Reply 10 of 34

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GTR View Post


    Apple: Once their motto was "To make a dent in the universe".


     


    No Longer.


     


    image


     


     



     


    From the industry wide, ``Follow the leader [Apple],'' I'd say they are making several dents in the universe.

  • Reply 11 of 34
    Agree or disagree, it is really nice to see the antitrust and IPR leadership being shown by EU on a whole range of issues.

    The US appears to be absolutely clueless about what's going on, at the Federal level. (A plea: Please don't get off on some sophomoric anti-Obama crap in response!).

    Witness, for example, the ridiculous 'invalidations' from the USPTO. How is a company supposed formulate strategy in this country? Rely on the Judge Kohs for guidance?
  • Reply 12 of 34

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GTR View Post


    Apple: Once their motto was "To make a dent in the universe".


     



     


    "If you wish to make an Apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe." -- Carl Sagan

  • Reply 13 of 34
    Ask Microsoft how this will turn out. How much did they end up paying for the unpardonable sin of bundling Media Player or IE with Windows?

    I have a feeling Samsung is going to pay dearly for this. As in hundreds of millions.
  • Reply 14 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,449member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post



    Ask Microsoft how this will turn out. How much did they end up paying for the unpardonable sin of bundling Media Player or IE with Windows?

     


    The EU may slap Microsoft with another $B for breaking the agreement they already had. Samsung almost begged for the same attention by thumbing their nose at Mr Alumia when he issued the first warning.

  • Reply 15 of 34
    cgjcgj Posts: 276member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    The European Union's illegitimateunelected, unaccountable, unwanted, etc. executive body on Friday formally accused Samsung of abusing its dominant market position to gain a foothold in legal disputes being waged against Apple, a complaint the South Korean electronics giant tried to avoid by pulling out of such litigation in Europe.


    Fixed it for you.

  • Reply 16 of 34


    Originally Posted by CGJ View Post

    …illegitimate…


     


    Not if they're allowed to operate unquestioned.

  • Reply 17 of 34

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    The EU may slap Microsoft with another $B for breaking the agreement they already had. Samsung almost begged for the same attention by thumbing their nose at Mr Alumia when he issued the first warning.



     


    I've been thinking this as well. I was actually surprised it took them this long. Plus, based on Samsung's court history, they're not one to earn court favors. I wonder how they will handle this initially.

  • Reply 18 of 34

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by hill60 View Post


     


    So why the f*ck did Samsung seek to revoke the existing license agreements to the patents Apple already had with 3rd party chipmakers, you lying, sleaze bag f*cks?



    Because everyone thinks that Apple paid a big pile of cash to Nokia to reward the latter's shenanigans in the 2007-2010 period. Except that Nokia probably lost money on the deal.


     


    Cheers

  • Reply 19 of 34

    Quoting CGJ:


    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    The European Union's illegitimateunelected, unaccountable, unwanted, etc.



     


    Oh great.  Who invited the UKIP member along...  There's a separate politics thread y'know...

  • Reply 20 of 34
    cgjcgj Posts: 276member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by webweasel View Post


     


    Oh great.  Who invited the UKIP member along...  There's a separate politics thread y'know...



    Haha - It's funny that I actually like what the EU does. I just can't stand the European Commission. It just created a huge democratic deficit. And UKIP? No thanks :)


     


    Returning to the subject...


     


    I find this is actually good news, especially if it means Samsung can't sue for use of FRAND patents.

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