Samsung Electronics will be facing charges from the European Commission for breaking antitrust rules in its refusal to provide competitors access to its technology, according to the body’s top antitrust official.
“One of the biggest issues we have with holders of standard essential patents is using them to launch injunctions before attempting to license on FRAND (fair reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms,” Joaquin Almunia, competition commissioner for the EC, was quoted as saying in Computerworld. “This is precisely what we are investigating in the Samsung case.”
Samsung, Alumnia said, did not just threaten its rival in the tablet and smart phone market, Apple Inc. with injunctions but launched them.
He said the EC is close to issuing a statement of objections against Samsung and the list of the company’s alleged breaches of European competition law may be released by the end of the year.
Almunia’s announcement comes on the heels of a California judge’s refusal to grant the electronic giant’s request for a retrial after losing its US$1 billion patent battle against Apple. Justice Lucy Koh dismissed Samsung’s allegations that the jury foreman in the case was biased because he was involved in litigation with hard drive maker Seagate that could have affected his vote. The judge also refused Apple’s motion for a U.S. permanent injunction on some of Samsung’s products that infringed on Apple patents.
Apple and Samsung have been locked in a long running legal battle over intellectual property in the more than $200 billion smartphone industry.
Earlier this week the South Korean-based technology company announced that will will withdraw all its injunctions against Apple in Europe.
Alumnia said he was happy with this development but added that his office would still proceed with its probe “to see if abuses happened in the past.”
Samsung said it was informed that the EC’s announcement was imminent, but did not issue any statement.