Samsung negotiating EU antitrust case settlement: report

Summary:The global Apple v. Samsung saga took an interesting twist on Tuesday after reports emerged that the Korean electronics giant is in talks to settle with European antitust regulators.

Image: CNET

Samsung is in "preliminary talks" with the European Commission, according to a report, to settle accusations that it abused its market position by blocking Apple from using an essential cellular patent.

Reuters was first to report the story, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

According to the wire service, the talks began after the Commission told Samsung in December that in filing a number of patent-related lawsuits against Apple was unfair to the iPhone and iPad maker.

The Commission opened an investigation against the Korean electronics giant in January 2012.

Samsung owns a number of standard-essential patents — inventions that must be licensed under "Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory" (FRAND) terms — in order to keep competition healthy. But the EU believes that those Samsung-owned 3G patents, which are essential to enable cellular transmissions across mobile networks, may have been used in patent lawsuits in an anti-competitive way.

If Samsung fails to settle, and is found to have violated competition laws in the 27 member state bloc, it could be fined up to 10 percent of its global turnover.

While this could be as much as $17.3 billion in total fines, though regulators very rarely push past the 3 percent turnover mark.

Samsung has previously said it has not done anything wrong. The Commission does not discuss ongoing settlement negotiations, and declined to comment to Reuters.  

Last August, after a lengthy and highly publicized battle, Apple was awarded just over $1 billion in damages after a U.S. jury decided that Samsung had copied elements of Apple's mobile device designs.

The two companies continue to engage in legal spats around the world, with more than 30 cases in 10 different jurisdictions at the height of the dispute, as the two battle it out for the prime market share spot.

Topics: EU, Apple, Samsung


Zack Whittaker is a writer-editor for ZDNet, and sister sites CNET and CBS News. He is based in the New York newsroom. His PGP key is: EB6CEEA5.

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