EU sends an antitrust complaint to Samsung

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EU sends an antitrust complaint to Samsung

Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest maker of smartphones, was sent an antitrust complaint from the European Union accusing the company of abusing its dominant market position in legal disputes with Apple.

Samsung’s use of court injunctions seeking to block Apple’s products in relation to so-called standard-essential patents violates antitrust rules in the 27-nation bloc, the European Commission said Dec. 21 in an e-mailed statement.

While such injunctions can generally be challenged fairly in court, Samsung may be violating EU rules by seeking them in relation to essential patents when Apple has “shown itself to be willing to negotiate,” the Brussels-based commission said in the statement.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia signaled that he would send the complaint by the end of this year.

“We are studying the statement and will firmly defend ourselves against any misconceived allegations,” Samsung, based in Suwon, Korea, said in an e-mailed statement. “We will continue to fully cooperate with the commission.”

The company is “confident that in due course the commission will conclude that we have acted in compliance with European Union competition laws.”

Samsung failed to deflect the EU complaint when it announced on Dec. 18 it plans to withdraw injunctions in Europe that seek to block sales of Apple products.

Almunia said that such a move wasn’t enough to prevent regulators from sending a so-called statement of objections to the company.

The EU is probing whether Samsung violated agreements to license key patents to other mobile-phone manufacturers on fair terms.

Under phone industry agreements on standards, companies owning the rights to essential technology must usually license it to competitors on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms, known as Frand.

When the disputed mobile-phone technology was adopted in Europe as a standard, Samsung “gave a commitment that it would license the patents which it had declared essential to the standard on Frand terms,” the commission said. Bloomberg
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