A move made recently by Samsung to counter Apple’s ongoing legal assault on its allegedly patent-infringing products could come back to bite the Korean electronics manufacturer. That’s because the European Commission is investigating recent attempts by Samsung to have Apple products barred from sale in European Union countries to determine whether or not they merit a full antitrust investigation, as first reported by FOSS Patents.
Apple recently disclosed the information in a legal filing in its case against Samsung in California. Apple uses the EC investigation to demonstrate Samsung’s extensive assault on its intellectual property, which it sees as unmerited:
Indeed, Samsung’s litigation campaign and other conduct related to its Declared-Essential Patents is so egregious that the European Commission recently has opened an investigation to determine whether Samsung’s behavior violates EU competition laws. Apple brings these Counterclaims In Reply to halt Samsung’s abuse and protect consumers, the wireless telecommunications industry, and Apple from further injury.
Following the release of this information, both the European Commission and Samsung confirmed that they are involved in the preliminary stages of investigating possible problems related to “the enforcement of standards-essential patents in the mobile telephony sector.”
The patents Samsung used in the EU to try to get Apple’s products barred from sale are considered “standards-essential,” which means that they must be offered under fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms to Samsung’s competitors. Earlier, a court dismissed Samsung’s request for an injunction in the Netherlands because it found that Samsung had not satisfied the FRAND conditions in its licensing attempts. Apple had previously raised the issue of possible antitrust violations during a related hearing.
This initial investigation could be good for Apple because it might limit Samsung’s ability to pursue an aggressive strategy with its patent claims in Europe. And as Apple has already shown, the iPhone maker can and will take the commission’s actions and use them to demonstrate its case in other ongoing patent litigation actions around the world.