Europe antitrust authorities investigating Samsung's patent claims against Apple

Europe antitrust authorities investigating Samsung's patent claims against Apple

Summary: Amid continuing patent clashes between Apple and Samsung, European regulators are investigating whether antitrust law has been broken.

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European regulators are investigating whether Samsung has breached EU antitrust laws amid an ongoing global patent dispute, the European Commission confirmed today.

"The (European) Commission has indeed sent requests for information to Apple and Samsung concerning the enforcement of standards-essential patents in the mobile telephony sector," it said in a statement.

Keen to stress that requests for such information are "standard procedure", Apple's filings suggest a deeper investigation into Samsung's patent claims.

(Image source: Flickr, CC)

In retaliation for Apple's assault, Samsung's counterclaims are based upon patents essential to UMTS, a crucial technology enabling 3G cellular transmissions across mobile networks. These patents were licensed under "Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory" (FRAND) terms, which Apple argues is bad for business and a breach of Samsung's pledge.

The Commission believes this is something worth investigating. As discovered by FOSS Patents author Florian Mueller, the filing said:

"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 behaviour violates EU competition laws."

Samsung told a Dutch publication that it is co-operating fully with the authorities.

If the Commission finds that Samsung has broken antitrust law, it could result in Samsung being forced to drop its legal cases against Apple in Europe, which could then in turn trickle down to remaining, ongoing action in other non-EU jurisdiction.

The Commission can fine a company up to 10 percent of its global turnover, if European rules have been violated, reports Reuters.

Apple has argued that Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and tablets infringed Apple's design patents pertaining to its iPhone and iPad devices. Samsung, however, has returned fire by bringing its own patents infringement claims against the Cupertino-based giant, in a number of European courts.

Samsung's Galaxy tablets have been banned from sale in a number of countries, notably Germany and Australia.

Yet, within days of the iPhone 4S launch, Samsung sought a sales ban of the smartphone in France and Italy, claiming Apple had infringed its patents in the device, adding fuel to the ongoing patent fire. A fortnight later, the Korean smartphone giant had filed in two further countries, Japan and Australia.

While the suits continue, the iPhone 4S remains as Apple's fastest selling product to date.

Related:

Topics: Apple, Enterprise Software, Legal, Samsung, Security

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23 comments
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  • Samsung has a monopoly?

    This is interesting to me because we are constantly told by Apple fanbois that there can be no antitrust without a monopoly.

    Yet here we have Samsung being investigated for antitrust. What is Samsung's monopoly?
    toddybottom
    • Good trolling trick; however, this has nothing to do with Apple being ...

      @toddybottom: ... monopoly, since at no sector Apple is found abusing its monopoly position, which would be illegal, not monopoly itself.

      Samsungs' patents were included in the UMTS standard only because the company signed papers that they will offer the patents to any party on FRAND terms. And now they are suspected.
      DDERSSS
    • RE: Europe antitrust authorities investigating Samsung's patent claims against Apple

      @toddybottom
      Samsung has a monopoly on that patent. Even that would be fine if it wasn't considered essential.
      anono
  • RE: Europe antitrust authorities investigating Samsung's patent claims against Apple

    Anti-trust is not equal to monopoly. Samsung was trying to get particular competitors banned from ability to use 3G data on phones while letting others license the technology. The patents were part of a large agreement defining 3G standards that were adopted and published by the industry as part of licensing the airwaves. Samsung decided to use their patents years after Apple started selling the iPhones, and retroactively enforce on of these basic patents covered by the standard. Meanwhile, Apple was using Broadcom/Qualcom etc chips with 3G functionality that already has licenses for the technology under the FRAND standard. Seems very anti-competitive from Samsung...
    teetee1970
    • You didn't answer the question

      @teetee1970
      "Seems very anti-competitive from Samsung... "

      Where is Samsung's monopoly? Like I said, whenever Apple's anti-competitive actions are brought up, the immediate defense is that Apple can't be anti-competitive because they don't have a monopoly.

      So where is Samsung's monopoly?
      toddybottom
      • I hope you're under the influence of something

        Because if not, then you're got some serious issues. That and you probably have as much of an idea how the EC functions as does a kangaroo understand particle physics.
        ego.sum.stig
      • Samsung's molopoly is in that their patents are part of world standard UMTS

        @toddybottom: ... there is almost no way to make a phone that could work on cell networks without UMTS standard. So this is monopoly, and abuse of monopoly position is crime that is punished with fines valued up to 10% of turnover. (However, Samsung did not yet caused any harm, so they will not be really punished. However, their attempts to abuse their position will be stopped.)
        DDERSSS
      • RE: Europe antitrust authorities investigating Samsung's patent claims against Apple

        @Derss There is a way... It's called EDGE and 2G... Point here, Samsung obeys FRAND and offered to Apple to sell it like all customers. Apple refused to buy it, because Apple claims they use parts like Intel etc. in their phones/tablets so they don't need to buy it.
        AmediaN
    • RE: Europe antitrust authorities investigating Samsung's patent claims against Apple

      @teetee1970 Samsung does not try to ban Apple, it wants Apple to buy patents. They do want to sell it and offered Apple about it. Apple refuses to buy them because Apple claims these patents are part of "parts they use in their devices" ... That's all the fuss
      AmediaN
      • RE: Europe antitrust authorities investigating Samsung's patent claims against Apple

        @AmediaN

        The chip manufacturers pay the royalties to Samsung. Samsung is asking Apple to pay additional royalties on the use of those same chips.
        msalzberg
      • You are a compete moron

        @AmediaN That is the only explanation why you can't understand information.

        Just have a simple look at ALL the related articles. They all show that Apple is licensing the patents when they purchase the chips for LEGAL manufacturers (same way everybody else). What Samsung is doing is trying to charge a second more expensive license for what they already got paid for.
        wackoae
      • Might work

        That might work in Europe, I dunno. The issue has been litigated in the US, and settled by the Supreme Court. In the US, Apple could not be made to pay licensing fees for technology that they purchased from someone who had bought a license that allowed them to sublicense.

        The same issue might vary from country to country in the EU.
        Robert Hahn
      • RE: Europe antitrust authorities investigating Samsung's patent claims against Apple

        @msalzberg: As far as I know, it's SEPARATE patents for the hardware itself and the full product with software and integration of components.
        (BTW, I think that ALL these patent suits should be tossed out.)
        Natanael_L
    • Apple hasnt paid Samsung the FRAND fees to use those patents

      @teetee1970

      Apple has yet to pay Samsung the licensing fees.

      All other manufacturers has paid Samsung for the use of those 3G patents.
      ConceptVBS
  • RE: Europe antitrust authorities investigating Samsung's patent claims against Apple

    Ahhh, slightly off topic but, I had a chance to have a play with a Samsung tab the other day. Yes it is rectangular like the iPad but how could anyone miss the 'SAMSUNG' on the front or the fact that it does not have a front mounted 'home' button.
    TKR1
    • Shaken, not stirred

      MI6 has authorized its agents to shoot people who try to sell that "Apple patented the rectangle" nonsense.
      Robert Hahn
  • RE: Europe antitrust authorities investigating Samsung's patent claims against Apple

    Eye for eye, tooth for tooth. I'm with Samsung on this one. Apple tried to mislead court stretching device pictures to match their size with iPad etc. also most likely bribed in Germany, since Judge was using iPhone 4 telling this misleading is "just a mistake"
    AmediaN
  • RE: Europe antitrust authorities investigating Samsung's patent claims against Apple

    Apple opened a can of legal worms it can't win. The latest news is that two German courts say Apple infringed on two Motorola patents. Most of Apple products exists on the innovation of others. And we are not talking about how rectangular a device is or that it has tapered edges. We are talking real innovation that makes things actually work.<br>hh<a href="http://www.phonearena.com/news/Two-German-courts-say-Apple-infringed-on-two-Motorola-patents_id23521" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.phonearena.com/news/Two-German-courts-say-Apple-infringed-on-two-Motorola-patents_id23521" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.phonearena.com/news/Two-German-courts-say-Apple-infringed-on-two-Motorola-patents_id23521</a></a>
    mktpostal@...
  • RE: Europe antitrust authorities investigating Samsung's patent claims against Apple

    So basically Apple patents the rectangle and the EU is OK with it, but Samsung patents an actual wireless communications capability and the EU is skeptical because Apple whined?

    Hmm...
    PollyProteus
    • RE: Europe antitrust authorities investigating Samsung's patent claims against Apple

      @PollyProteus Polly: No offense, but I think you might possibly misunderstand the issue here, (or maybe I am). Samsung, whom is quite po'd with Apple, is trying to double dip, and get Apple to pay extra money.

      Samsung is already receiving money or royalties from the chip manufactures for the use of their tech. Then they're trying to force Apple, and only Apple to pay additional fees. This is of course my opinion from the articles I've been reading on the net....
      Thanks,
      Have a great day!!
      Rapid Rec