EU regulators weigh in on Apple and Samsung disputes

23 Nov 2011

The EU Competition Commission is growing concerned over Samsung and Apple’s ongoing legal disputes over patents, as it believes IP rights are being used to restrict competition.

The two tech giant’s legal disputes over mobile patents have spread across Europe, the US, Japan and Australia. Apple alleges that Samsung infringed a number of its mobile patents and designs while Samsung claims Apple has infringed its wireless patents.

Reuters reports that the European Commission requested information from both Samsung and Apple about patents used as standard in the mobile industry.

“We requested information from both Apple and Samsung. We have not yet received the answers,” said EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia.

Almunia noted that Apple and Samsung’s cases were only one of many which used IP rights to prevent competition.

“In particular, in the IT sector, it is obvious it is not the only case. Apple and Samsung is only one case where IP rights can be used as an instrument to restrict competition,” he said.

“Standardisation and IP rights are two instruments that in this new IT sector can be used as a tool to abuse,” said Almunia.

Outside of the Apple and Samsung dispute, Apple was recently cleared of all charges after HTC subsidiary S3 claimed the company violated its patents.

Google and Microsoft recently engaged in a public dispute over patents, where Google claimed Microsoft, Apple and Oracle were plotting to strangle Android’s growth by purchasing Novell patents. Microsoft hit back, saying Google was invited to join these companies to buy the patents, but refused.