It seems that the court cases and legal battles in Europe involving Samsung would not end in near future. European Union (EU) today formally launched an investigation into the the competitive practices of Samsung.
Here the issue is, a collection of patents that Samsung has used to launch a series of lawsuits against rival companies, especially Apple. Samsung has maintained that these patents are essential to complying with European mobile standards. However, the EU is saying that Samsung may be in violation of a promise it 1998. Back in 1998, Samsung promised that it would license these essential telephonic patents to competing manufacturers, under the terms outlined in Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory (FRAND).
The Commission explained the obligation and its potential ramifications in the following statement:
The Commission will investigate, in particular, whether in doing so (seeking injunctions on patent infringements in 2011) Samsung has failed to honor its irrevocable commitment given in 1998 to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute to license any standard essential patents relating to European mobile telephony standards on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The Commission will examine whether such behavior amounts to an abuse of a dominant position prohibited by Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.
European Union Competition Commission first paid attention to the conflict between Apple and Samsung when Samsung sued Apple and obtained a verdict that made it compulsory for Apple to share the source code of iPhone 4S with Samsung in Australia. It was suspected that Samsung might be using patent laws as a weapon against its competitor.
It remains to be seen what would be Samsung’s response to this investigation.