Samsung has withdrawn all requests in Europe for a ban on the sale of Apple products that the South Korean company says infringe on standard-essential patents.
However, while Samsung has shelved its request for a ban, the company confirmed on Tuesday that it will be continuing with the case against Apple's use of standard-essential patents.
"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," Samsung said in a statement. "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."
In the course of the past year or so, Samsung has filed injunctions against Apple products in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.
The dispute between the two companies has resulted in legal challenges being lodged by both parties for alleged patent and copyright infringement in a number of countries both inside and outside Europe. The cases outside of Europe are unaffected by today's news.
While the move might come as a surprise to some observers, software patent commentator Florian Mueller said the decision was likely a result of Hobson's Choice, or close to it.
"There can be no doubt whatsoever that the European Commission was behind this. Samsung would never have done this voluntarily, especially not in jurisdictions such as Germany that do not rule out SEP-based injunctions at all," Mueller wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.
"There can be no doubt whatsoever that the European Commission was behind this" — Florian Mueller
Mueller also suggests there could be an informal agreement between Samsung and the European Commission that is behind the decision. The Commission is also investigating Samsung's activities in relation to antitrust licensing claims.
"What's unclear at this point is whether Samsung has a gentlemen's agreement with the European Commission that the antitrust investigation will be dropped — without remedies, or maybe with only soft remedies — if it withdraws its European requests for injunctions," Mueller said.
"If there is such an agreement, then the European Commission will soon comment favourably on Samsung's announcement and close the case. If there is no such agreement, then the investigation may continue and Samsung may still be fined, but it would certainly be in much better shape than if it had carried on with its enforcement, especially in Germany," he added.