European Commission launches anti-trust probe into Samsung

31 Jan 2012

The European Commission has launched a formal investigation into whether Samsung abused commonly available patents on smartphone devices to attack Apple in the companies’ ongoing intellectual property (IP) disputes.

The Commission alleges Samsung contravened a commitment it gave to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and used standard essential patent rights to distort competition in European device markets.

Samsung and other patent holders made a commitment to ensure FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) access to standardised technology, such as 3G and other wireless standards.

Samsung is suing Apple in Europe over 13 standards related to its 3G technology.

“In 2011, Samsung sought injunctive relief in various Member States’ courts against competing mobile device makers based on alleged infringements of certain of its patent rights which it has declared essential to implement European mobile telephony standards,” the European Commission said in a statement today.

“The commission will investigate, in particular, whether in doing so Samsung has failed to honour its irrevocable commitment given in 1998 to ETSI to license any standard essential patents relating to European mobile telephony standards on FRAND terms.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years