EU to Investigate Samsung's Use of Essential 3G Patents
The European Commission has become more directly involved in the lawsuits between Apple and Samsung today by announcing it will investigate how Samsung is using its 3G patents to file lawsuits against competitors. The Commission "has opened a formal investigation to assess whether Samsung Electronics has abusively used certain of its standard essential patent rights to distort competition in European mobile device markets, in breach of EU antitrust rules." The EU is concerned that Samsung is distorting the value of "standards-essential" patents. Patents deemed essential must be licensed on a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory basis — a policy known as FRAND. The EU's entry into this battle stands to dramatically alter the outcome of a number of lawsuits between Apple, Samsung, and other smartphone makers in court rooms around Europe. The two companies have been waging a patent war since Apple sued Samsung in the U.S. in April 2010.