European Commission Opens Investigation into Samsung's Patent Threats Against Apple

The patent dispute between Apple and Samsung has certainly been well-documented as it has expanded to encompass numerous lawsuits and other complaints filed by both sides in a number of different countries. The offensive portion of Samsung's case has centered on 3G-related patents that it owns, but Apple has argued that those patents are essential to basic device operation and must therefore be licensed under FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms. Apple's lawyers have also argued that Samsung's proposed licensing terms for those patents have so far not been made in compliance with FRAND standards.

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As first reported by FOSS Patents, a new legal filing by Apple in a U.S. case has revealed that the European Commission is indeed investigating Samsung over potential abuse of FRAND-related patents. From the filing:

Samsung has launched an aggressive, worldwide campaign to enjoin Apple from allegedly practicing Samsung's patents. Samsung has sued Apple for infringement and injunctions in no fewer than eight countries outside the United States. Indeed, 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 behavior violates EU competition laws.

Reuters also reports that the European Commission has issued a statement acknowledging the investigation, noting that it has requested information from both Samsung and Apple as it enters the early stages of a potential antitrust inquiry.

"The Commission has indeed sent requests for information to Apple and Samsung concerning the enforcement of standards-essential patents in the mobile telephony sector. Such requests for information are standard procedure in antitrust investigations to allow the Commission to establish the relevant facts in a case. We have no other comments at this stage," the EU executive said in a statement.

Apple has won a number of injunctions against Samsung over claims that several Android-based tablets and smartphones infringe upon Apple's design patents. Samsung initially adopted a primarily defensive stance against Apple, but has recently gone on the offensive to assert its 3G patents in an attempt to strengthen its hand in the courts and any potential settlement talks. But with some observers and Apple having argued that Samsung's asserted patents are subject to FRAND terms and judges and regulatory authorities beginning to agree with or at least consider that position, Samsung's efforts may yet backfire on the company.

Top Rated Comments

starvingartist8 Avatar
161 months ago
I know this is gonna get downrated but Samsung are being jerks. They think they can just copy stuff and get away with it because they supply or used to supply Apple with their parts...

That is like me letting someone else copy my paintings because they sell me their paint...

Grow up Samsung you cannot win.. it is too logically against you.

Do something on your own for once Samsung. Such an immoral company.

Have fun downrating people who cannot see logically.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nagromme Avatar
161 months ago
The best outcome, I fear, may be unlikely: Samsung stops the lazy, blatant copying and focuses instead on creating truly great, original, innovative touch-platform designs! Wouldn’t that be nice to see?

Apple is stifling innovation by not going after these copycats even harder! :)
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mcarling Avatar
161 months ago
Samsung appears to be violating Article 102 TFEU.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dBeats Avatar
161 months ago
Samsung even copies Apple's lawsuits and still can't manage to do anything right. What a pitiful uncreative company....
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mknopp Avatar
161 months ago

It appears to be backfiring on Samsung at the moment. I wonder how long before it backfires on apple?

This isn't anti competition. This is anti plagiarism.

No, it started as anti-plagiarism (actually trade dress violations but close enough). Then Samsung turned it into an anti-competitive argument, by trying to sue Apple for violations of FRAND technology.

To me this is just a huge sign of how weak Samsung's case really is. Within an hour of these 3G cases becoming public knowledge many people in the know where expressing confusion as to how Samsung was planning to use FRAND patents in this way without getting into trouble. Therefore, either Samsung's lawyers are idiots or this was just an absolutely desperate grab at anything that Samsung could use to try and get out of Apple's case concerning their trade dress violations (which according to Apple's filing seem to be numerous and pretty blatant).

Too many people seem to want to turn this into an Apple versus Android fight, but in reality it didn't start that way. Samsung made changes to Android to make their version look way too similar to iOS and that doesn't even start to address the packaging and industrial design itself. Other companies have somehow managed to use Android without making it look like iOS, so it was a decision that Samsung made that had nothing to do with using Android.

As for the physical appearance, that is likely the weakest argument of Apple concerning trade dress. After all it is a radius cornered rectangle with a black bezel, but simply take a look at the new Motorola Xoom to see that it is actually possible to make a tablet that doesn't physically mimic the iPad. Honestly, I like the look of the new Xoom with its chamfered corners. Good work Motorola on some actual design innovation.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
The Great Boony Avatar
161 months ago
Which was what precisely?
Samsung 100% steals Apple's designs and products, Apple forces them to stop.
What part of that are you weeping over for Samsung?

Samsung have copied Apple for years and have been getting away with it.

The cost of using Android on your hardware is going to get very expensive in the future, they are already paying Microsoft in excess of $15 per handset installed with android and Nokia $7 per handset.

A quick look at all phones released in 2007 alongside the iPhone just displays how advanced iPhone and iOS was.

I’d be curious to see what shape Android was in then… bearing in mind Google they hired two Apple engineers that had early sight of IOS way before iPhone was released.

Google is the devil and Samsung are one of their minions
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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