EU ready to charge Samsung in antitrust case: report

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

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."