There may be some relief coming in the patent war, at least on the front pitting Samsung against Apple in Europe. The European Commission opened a consultation, on 17 October, on Samsung's commitments to correct its anti-competitive practices related to "abusive" court orders against its competitors - especially Apple. The executive wishes to obtain stakeholders' views on the commitments and has invited them to submit comments within the next month.

In January 2012, the Commission opened an in-depth investigation to determine whether the Korean manufacturer was abusing its essential technology patent rights related to mobile and wireless communications.


At issue are the applications for injunctive relief submitted by Samsung in several member states over more than a two-year period to challenge Apple's use of certain functions on the tablet and multifunction phone market. Samsung holds patents that are essential to a technology standard - 3G-UMTS of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) - and consequently agreed to license competitors on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) basis. It refused to respond to Apple's license applications, preferring to use court orders to ban the sale of competing products that include the functions.

While it is legitimate for a manufacturer to lodge a complaint for patent infringement, the repeated use of complaints against competitors who have been licensed to use the standard is an abusive practice in the case of essential patents. There is the risk that Samsung intends to impose royalty rates or other licensing terms, such as broad cross-licenses, which a licensee would not agree to, on the threat of having its products excluded from the market. "This may unduly distort licensing negotiations and cause harm to consumers by increasing prices, reducing product choice and stifling differentiating innovation in the markets for smartphones and tablets," reads a statement by the European Commission.

In December 2012, the Commission, convinced that Samsung was abusing its dominant position, presented its statement of objections to the firm. Based on Samsung's turnover in 2011, the bill could come to nearly 9.3 billion, enough to make the Korean telecoms giant think twice. Indeed, in June, it submitted undertakings to the EU executive. Since the Commission did not find them entirely satisfactory, Samsung submitted new proposals, which Competition Commissioner...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT