European Commission to investigate Samsung’s abuse of RAND patents

Tue, Jan 31, 2012

Legal, News

Well it seems that Samsung’s strategy of suing Apple for allegedly infringing RAND patents is coming back to bite them in the ass.

Foss Patents reports:

The European Commission just announced that it has “opened a formal investigation to assess whether Samsung Electronics has abusively, and in contravention of a commitment it gave to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), used certain of its standard essential patent rights to distort competition in European mobile device markets, in breach of EU antitrust rules”.

It goes without saying that Samsung is innocent until proven guilty of abuse. But the launch of a full-blown investigation after a few months of preliminary investigations is an important step. This means European competition enforcers have received information, in response to questionnaires (sent to Apple, which may have informally complained, and Samsung) that warrant a more formal effort. As the Commission’s press release states, “[t]he opening of proceedings means that the Commission will examine the case as a matter of priority”.

Not too long ago, we highlighted just why Samsung’s strategy was illegal/

Whereas the patents asserted by Apple against Samsung are completely owned by Apple and unencumbered by any outside obligations and restrictions, many of the patents asserted by Samsung involve technologies that are part of established technological standards.

The significance of that is as follows: When a standards setting organization decides to set a standard for the industry – whether it be for wireless internet, video codecs, or in this case wireless mobile technology – companies can submit their own patents/technologies in an effort to have them be an indispensable part of an agreed upon standard.

In exchange for including a company’s technology in a industry-wide standard, any patents involved in a standard cannot be withheld from competitors and must be licensed out to friends and foes alike on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, otherwise known as Frand terms.



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