Samsung Promises Peace and Patents in EU
(CN) - Samsung has promised to stop using the EU courts to wage war on other tech companies over basic smartphone and tablet patents, the European Commission said Tuesday.
Regulators in the EU began investigating the South Korean tech giant over two years ago over complaints that the company broke antitrust laws and "distorted competition" by failing to license standard essential patents, or SEPs, on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms.
Owners of SEPs are required to license them to rivals on FRAND terms to ensure equal access to standard technology. But since 2011 Samsung has been actively seeking injunctions against Apple over 3G wireless patents instead of licensing the technology as it does with other competitors, regulators said.
But after threatening Samsung with fines of up to 10 percent of the company's worldwide profits, the commission said Tuesday that it would accept Samsung's promises to abide by its FRAND commitments and resolve licensing disputes through arbitration rather than sales bans.
"The protection of intellectual property and competition are both key drivers of innovation and growth," said commission vice president for competition policy Joaquin Almunia. "This is why it is essential that intellectual property is not misused to the detriment of healthy competition and, ultimately, of consumers. I welcome Samsung's commitment to resolve disputes on SEPs without having recourse to injunctions in a way that could harm competition. The commission's decision to accept Samsung's commitments provides clarity to the industry on what constitutes an appropriate framework to settle disputes over FRAND terms in line with EU antitrust rules."
Samsung cannot seek any injunctions for SEPs in any EU court for the next five years, regulators said. The company also agreed to negotiate with potential licensees for a year before going to a court or arbitrator for a determination of FRAND terms.
An independent monitor will be appointed to oversee Samsung's commitments, the commission said.