Samsung's European legal woes
don't look to be abating anytime soon, as the EU today formally launched an investigation into the Korean manufacturers' competitive practices. At issue are, not surprisingly, a collection of patents that Samsung has used to launch a series of lawsuits against rival companies. The manufacturer maintains that these patents are essential to complying with European mobile standards, but the EU says Samsung may be in violation of a promise it made more than ten years ago. Back in 1998, the firm said it would license these essential telephonic patents to competing manufacturers, under the terms outlined in FRAND. The Commission explained the obligation and its potential ramifications in the following statement:
The Commission will investigate, in particular, whether in doing so (seeking injunctions on patent infringements in 2011) Samsung has failed to honor its irrevocable commitment given in 1998 to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute to license any standard essential patents relating to European mobile telephony standards on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The Commission will examine whether such behavior amounts to an abuse of a dominant position prohibited by Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.
No word yet on how long the investigation may take, but we'll be sure to keep you updated going forward.