More news from one of the many Samsung vs Apple lawsuits came out today, this time from Europe. The European Union’s European Commission has filed a formal “statement of objections” against Samsung for it’s actions in cases against Apple.
The competition governing body of the European Union is accusing Samsung of “an abuse of a dominant position prohibited by EU antitrust rules” by requesting injunctions against Apple products. Samsung is of course claiming that Apple is using wireless patents that do not belong to them. One of the claims Samsung has filed has to do with Apple’s use of 3G connectivity.
According to the European Commission’s competition chief Joaquin Almunia:
Intellectual-property rights are an important cornerstone of the single market. However, such rights should not be misused when they are essential to implement industry standards, which bring huge benefits to businesses and consumers alike. When companies have contributed their patents to an industry standard and have made a commitment to license the patents in return for fair remuneration, than the use of injunctions against willing licensees can be anticompetitive.
The EC believes that these patents are standard essential offered on a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory basis or FRAND for short. Here is today’s statement from the EC:
“Where a commitment to license SEPs on FRAND terms has been given by Samsung, and where a potential licensee, in this case Apple, has shown itself to be willing to negotiate a FRAND licence for the SEPs, then recourse to injunctions harms competition.”
While the EU has been investigating Samsung on this matter going all the way back to November 2011 nothing is final yet. The formal statement is just another step in the long road towards the final decision that’s meant to give the possible infringing party (Apple) sort of progress report on where things stand and also a chance to respond.
In what appears to be a pre-emptive strike to get ahead of this report, Samsung actually dropped requested bans on Apple products Germany, the U.K., and France. They released this statement earlier this week:
Samsung remains committed to licensing our technologies on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory terms, and we strongly believe it is better when companies compete fairly in the marketplace, rather than in court. In this spirit, Samsung has decided to withdraw our injunction requests against Apple on the basis of our standard essential patents pending in European courts, in the interest of protecting consumer choice.
If Samsung loses it’s case the fines could be huge. The possibility of up to ten percent of revenue sales is still on the table. With that kind of hit let’s hope they know what they’re doing.