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EC to Charge Samsung with Antitrust over SEPs

Samsung can expect to get it by the end of the year or early next year at the latest

Europe's antitrust czar Joaquin Almunia disclosed Thursday that the European Commission is about to charge Samsung with antitrust violations over its use of standards-essential patents (SEPs) in its litigation with Apple.

He told a press conference in Brussels that the agency would have its statement of objections (SO) ready "very soon."

Samsung can expect to get it by the end of the year or early next year at the latest.

On Tuesday Samsung announced that it will drop its attempts to get Apple products banned anywhere in Europe using its SEPs.

It won't drop its infringement suits, but will limit its SEP claims to monetary damages and it will still seek injunctions for Apple's alleged infringement of its non-SEP patents.

Samsung claimed its action was "unilateral and voluntary," but FOSS Patents assumed that the EC, which has been investigating Samsung's use of SEPs, leaned sufficiently on the Korean company for it to change its legal strategy ahead of a statement of objections (SO).

The blog said, "There can be no doubt whatsoever that the European Commission was behind this. Samsung would never have done this voluntarily, especially not in jurisdictions such as Germany that do not rule out SEP-based injunctions at all. Nor are there signs of a partial or complete settlement (otherwise there would have been a joint announcement, with Apple also dropping some claims). The only plausible explanations for this unilateral withdrawal involve the European Commission."

Bloomberg reports Almunia as saying the regulators were "happy" with Samsung ceasing to try to block the sale of Apple product but "the commission will continue to investigate the company over whether the threat to use such injunctions harms competition."

Samsung's move, which the company attributed to ensuring that consumers had a choice, came hours after a California court said it would not ban Samsung products that a jury found this summer violated Apple's design and technical patents, none of which are standards-essential.

The EC has also been investigating Motorola Mobility and its master Google over SEPs.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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