Friday, November 04, 2011

European Commission Opens Antitrust Investigation In Samsung Vs Apple Patent Fight

Samsung and Apple have been locked in a heated legal battle over each company's alleged infringement over patents. This week the European Commission, the European Union's top antitrust authority, has decided to open an investigation into Samsung's attempted use of patents to retaliate against Apple and potentially block the sale of Apple products.

Follwoing several lawsuits filed by Apple claiming Samsung's designs have infringed up Apple's IP Samsung has taken retaliatory action suing Apple in five E.U. countries alleging infringement of its patents on 3G mobile technology.

The European Commission has opened a preliminary investigation where as the Commission submits requests for information from the concerned parties. Such requests for information are standard procedure in antitrust investigations to allow the Commission to establish the relevant facts in a case. If there is sufficient evidence the the EU's competition rules have been broken a wider investigation will then follow.

At the heart of the investigation is whether Samsung is abusing the principle of fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing in these cases.

FRAND licenses allow companies to develop open standards for systems such as 3G mobile networks by sharing information and technology. Standards bodies typically require that companies participating in the development of a standard agree to license any relevant patents they hold on FRAND terms if their technology is essential to the standard. Under these terms Samsung and other companies must offer competitors fair and reasonable licensing terms. Something Apple is alleging Samsung refused to do.

Samsung said in a statement it had "at all times remained committed to fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms" for its wireless standards-related patents.

To date Apple has won several key battles against Samsung. Winning a temporary block the the Samsung Galaxy tab in Australian courts and a temporary block of Samsung from selling its tablets in Germany and some smartphone models in the Netherlands.

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