EU Issues Formal Objections Against Samsung For Patent Abuse

The European Commission has delivered a “statement of objections” to Samsung’s leadership, in which it claims that Samsung was abusing its standard-essential patents in preventing Apple from making use of the same. Providing written notice is the next step in the EC’s investigation of Samsung, which began due to the Korean company’s many injunction requests and lawsuits filed in EU member states against Apple, and which isn’t going away despite Samsung having dropped all of its injunction requests in EU countries.

From here, the next step is for Samsung to formally reply to the charge from the EC, and ask for a hearing in front of regulators to defend its position. Once the Commission makes its judgement on the violations, following any defence mounted by Samsung, the gadget maker could face a fine up as much as 10 percent of its annual sales. The patents in question are related to 3G UMTS wireless communication, which Samsung had agreed to license with fair terms to its competitors in Europe.

“Intellectual property rights are an important cornerstone of the single market. However, such rights should not be misused when they are essential to implement industry standards, which bring huge benefits to businesses and consumers alike,” Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in statement released to Reuters on the subject.

This all began with the EU opening its investigation back in January. At the time, it explained that the reason for the investigation was due to Samsung’s pursuit of “injunctive relief in various Member States’ courts against competing mobile device makers based on alleged infringements of certain of its patent rights which it has declared essential to implement European mobile telephony standards.” Samsung tried to defray any potential fallout of this by dropping its requests for said “injunctive relief” earlier this week. That hasn’t stopped the formal charges, but it may help Samsung plead its case when it responds to this written request, helping it to eliminate or lessen any potential fine that might result.