EU ready to charge Samsung in antitrust case: report

EU ready to charge Samsung in antitrust case: report

Summary: According to reports, the European Commission will soon file an antitrust complaint against Samsung.

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TOPICS: Samsung, Government, EU
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Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET

The European Commission is expected to file a formal antitrust complaint against Samsung in the coming days.

Speaking to Reuters, the European Union's competition chief Joaquin Almunia said that his office will soon issue a "statement of objections" against the South Korean electronics giant, which is under scrutiny over allegations of anti-competitive behavior.

The European Commission has investigated Samsung for roughly a year over concerns that the firm may have broken European competition rules by filing a number of patent-related lawsuits against its rival firm, iPad and iPhone maker Apple.

"We will issue a statement of objections very soon," Almunia told the news agency.

The European Commission announced in November last year that Samsung was on its books, and a preliminary investigation had been launched into the electronics maker's policies over its patents. A number of standard-essential patents, necessary to keep competition healthy and owned by Samsung, have to be licensed under Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory" (FRAND) terms in order to try and keep business-monopoly situations to a minimum.

However, several months later, Samsung was put under a full investigation, as its wireless patents -- essential technology to enable 3G cellular transmissions across mobile networks -- may have been used in patent lawsuits as an anticompetitive tool.

If Samsung has indeed violated competition laws within Europe, it could be fined up to 10 percent of its global turnover.

Following a complaint from Apple, Samsung is not only being investigated by the European Commission, but also by an antitrust watchdog in its native South Korea. An anonymous member of the Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said that the company is being investigated for allegedly "distorting competition" by using standard-essential patents in lawsuits.

Apple and Samsung have been in a patent dispute which has spanned across court rooms worldwide as they fight over the lucrative smartphone and tablet markets. In August, after a lengthy high-profile battle, Apple was awarded $1.05 billion in damages after an American jury decided that Samsung had copied elements of Apple's mobile device designs.

On Tuesday, Samsung said it was going to stop trying to get the sale of Apple products blocked in a number of countries, including the U.K., France and Germany. The company alleged that the products in question infringed on FRAND terms, and issued the following statement:

"Samsung remains committed to licensing our technologies on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, and we strongly believe it is better when companies compete fairly in the marketplace, rather than in court. In this spirit, Samsung has decided to withdraw our injunction requests against Apple on the basis of our standard essential patents pending in European courts, in the interest of protecting consumer choice."

Topics: Samsung, Government, EU

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36 comments
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  • Apple

    So Apple has a monopoly on it's ecosystem, yet it gets no ant-trust lawsuits. Apple has been filing lawsuit after lawsuit against Android makers because they are jealous Android is beating iOS, but Samsung gets in trouble for filing lawsuits against Apple? No wonder the European Union is considered a joke.
    TJ Spyke
    • Samsung

      Has been engaging in anti-competitive behavior and patent theft but it's okay, they get a free pass becasue they are not Apple and were stealing from Apple. Right, got it.
      athynz
      • Samsung's bosses are serially convicted swindlers, so there is no respect

        ... to either laws or whoever's intellectual property. So no wonder the jury found them intentionally, deliberately stealing Apple's IP.
        DDERSSS
    • Apple does not have monopoly on the market, so there is no way to apply ...

      ... whatever regulations over theirs ecosystem.
      DDERSSS
    • WOW...

      So using your logic, Ford has a monopoly on Fords
      frogspaw
  • FRAND - resolution

    So what's the summary here? If you have FRAND patents and someone refuses to pay the fee's (regardless of whether it's a fair price or not), you can sue for compensation but can't ask for products to be banned from import/sale due if FRAND?
    Seems reasonable providing you can still litigate to get compensation.
    Little Old Man
    • The summary is far simpler

      Don't compete against apple or you'll find the EC knocking at your door.
      toddbottom3
    • FRAND

      Patented technology should be forbidden to become part of any essential standard. If you want your technology in a standard, make it public domain first. You will still have the benefit of better knowledge of the technology and have it already implemented.

      I believe the EU is acting appropriately by punishing patent trolls.

      That Android is part of the collateral damage is something Samsung caused. It can be argued that Samsung doesn't care much of Androids future.
      danbi
      • yes Samsung didn't care

        until Apple have appeared with the rounded corners and rubber band suit to rip off Samsung. A stupid ADD juror and/or biased careless or judge can do it. Hopefully there will be a retrial with no farce this time.
        What Samsung and Google are trying to is to counterattack the bullies (Microsoft and Apple). They are not allowed to sometimes with FRAND. This is just a very loud warning "Never make your patents FRAND, or you make them useless."
        eulampius
        • Yet another one

          Who can't bother to read the entire patent. The whole "Apple sued over rounded corners" betrays your ignorance. The patent yes does have rounded corners but it's only 1 part of the entire patent... IOW Samsung was not sued over roudned corners alone but the entire patent and other multi-component patents. Don't take my word for it - do the research.
          athynz
        • There is hope

          One by one, apple's ridiculous patents are being invalidated. The patent office just rubber stamps patent applications. Patents are only really examined later on when someone gets interested in challenging that patent. So far, apple's patents are not faring well upon reexamination. This is great news.
          toddbottom3
      • ROI

        Where is it if you ban patented tech from FRAND? Investors don't like companies giving things away when it could be monetised.
        What you've actually suggested is doing away with FRAND and stopping the system of universal standards. Companies will still patent tech but choose to withdraw from FRAND otherwise the $M's spent in R&D goes out of the window. Nice, top idea that one.
        Little Old Man
  • What do Google, MS, and Samsung all have in common?

    They all have been or are being attacked by the EU.

    They all compete with apple.

    Coincidence? Nope.

    This whole anti-trust thing is even more ridiculous when you consider that apple makes nearly 100% of all the profits in the computer device market. Will the EU only stop this when apple is making more than 100% of the profit in the market?
    toddbottom3
    • Yes...because EU Regulators NEVER investigate Apple

      http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/377269/eu-probes-apples-warranties-but-why-nobody-else-s

      http://news.yahoo.com/eu-antitrust-chief-hopes-settle-apple-case-soon-185710298.html

      Oh...maybe they do. Maybe this is just something regulators do...go investigate apparent problems and then address them if the results of the investigation warrant. Sometimes Apple pushes limits, sometimes Samsung, sometimes others...even MS...whether inadvertently or not. Perhaps the EU is over regulated...not for me to say as person living outside the EU. It's not the investigation that matters so much as what it reveals with regard to intent and legality.

      Your typically overwrought rhetoric notwithstanding.
      UGottaBKidding
      • Big difference

        When it comes to apple:
        1. EC starts investigation
        2. apple provides free ipads and promises, cross their hearts, hope to die, to never do it again.
        3. Investigation dropped, no punishements for past behavior.

        No other company is granted such leniency.
        toddbottom3
        • Ebooks

          Oh look, they've all been ripping off consumers after apple 're-modelled' the supply structure.
          Oh but it was apple? Good point, let's ask them to give back some money and then we'll say no more about it.
          Little Old Man
          • My bad

            I thought apple had settled but no, they're holding out for a court case while their co-accused have settled.
            Little Old Man
          • I think apple did settle

            http://www.padgadget.com/2012/12/13/apple-settles-anti-trust-probe-in-eu/

            Here is the thing though:
            "If a company is found guilty of infringing on EU rules, it can be fined up to 10 percent of global sales."

            apple WAS guilty of infringing on EU rules. They got caught doing so. They promised to never do it again, cross their heart, hope to die. Yet no punishment, no fine.

            apple should have been punished for the years of damage they inflicted upon Amazon and every consumer who paid too much for an ebook. That damage HAPPENED. apple's anti-trust behavior HAPPENED. Every other company is punished for what HAPPENED, even if they promise to never do it again. Except apple. Shiny ipads for all EC members.
            toddbottom3
          • You forget one thing

            In your haste to crucify Apple - Amazon was also inflating the prices on eBooks as were publishers long before Apple came along... Apple cut Amazon out and Amazon spilled the beans.
            athynz
          • A reseller is allowed to charge anything they want

            Charging high prices won't get you in trouble so your accusation is meaningless. Even if you are right, in a free market, Amazon is allowed to charge ANYTHING they want. Care to guess what apple admitted to doing? apple interfered with the free market and told the publishers that Amazon was NOT to be allowed to charge ANYTHING they wanted. That is anti-trust behavior. That is against the free market. That hurts consumers.

            apple needs to be punished for, is price collusion. What is anti-competitive is telling the publishers "we will sell your books at this price but you aren't allowed to provide your books to anyone else at any lower price." It's okay, we got all the other publishers to agree. We are a big cartel.

            If you have evidence that Amazon strong armed the publishers into not selling their books to any other reseller at a lower price, you should go to your local EC office and get them to charge Amazon with the exact same thing apple admitted to doing.

            If you don't, your whole post was just countered.
            toddbottom3