Samsung's Requests to Ban Apple Products Anti-Competitive: EC
European regulators are alleging that Samsung violated antitrust regulations by asking European countries to bar Apple products from stores.Samsung abused its dominant position in the mobile-device space when company officials asked several European countries to bar Apple from using Samsung-owned wireless patents crucial to the manufacturing and use of smartphones, according to European antitrust regulators. The European Commission (EC) issued a "Statement of Objections" Dec. 21 that outlined the reasons regulators believe Samsung violated European antitrust laws by asking countries such as Germany, Italy and France to ban Apple devices that use technology based on the particular patents. Officials with Samsung, which is in ferocious legal disputes with Apple in several countries over patents, had said earlier this week that they were withdrawing their injunction requests to keep Apple devices from store shelves, but the EC—the European Union's antitrust arm—issued its preliminary view anyway, saying that such requests related to such mobile phone standard-essential patents (SEPs) constituted abuse. "Intellectual-property rights are an important cornerstone of the single market," Joaquin Almunia, the EC's vice president of competition policy, said in a statement. "However, such rights should not be misused when they are essential to implement industry standards, which bring huge benefits to businesses and consumers alike. When companies have contributed their patents to an industry standard and have made a commitment to license the patents in return for fair remuneration, then the use of injunctions against willing licensees can be anti-competitive."
Samsung and Apple have been battling in courtrooms across the globe over patent rights as both companies look to gain share in the ultra-competitive worldwide smartphone market. Some of the filings Samsung has made against Apple center around 3G wireless patents, in particular the 3G UMTS standard common in Europe. The standard is important for mobile and wireless communications, according to EC officials, and when it was adopted on the continent, Samsung agreed to license its patents that were crucial to the 3G Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) standard on what regulators called Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms.