The European Commission charged Samsung Electronics on Friday with
abusing its dominant position in seeking to bar rival Apple from using a
patent deemed essential to mobile phone use.
The Commission sent a
"statement of objections" to the South Korean group, with its
preliminary view that Samsung was not acting fairly.
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
Apple and Samsung, the world's top two smartphone
makers, are locked in patent disputes in at least 10 countries as they
vie to dominate the lucrative mobile market and win over customers with
their latest gadgets.
The filing of competition objections is the
latest step in the Commission's investigation. After notifying Samsung
in writing, the company will have a chance to reply and request a
hearing before regulators.
If the Commission then concludes that
the firm has violated the rules, it could impose a fine of up to 10
percent of the electronics firm's total annual turnover.
companies are increasingly turning to the European Commission as the
European Union's competition authority, to resolve their disputes. The
Commission is also investigating Google and Microsoft.
In the case
of Samsung, its standard-essential patents (SEPs) relate to the EU's 3G
UMTS standard. When this was adopted in Europe, Samsung committed to
license the patents fairly to competitors, the Commission said.
it began seeking an injunction in 2011 in various EU member states
against Apple's use of these patents. The Commission opened its
investigation in January 2012.
Samsung said it was studying the
Commission's statement. It said it would cooperate fully and "firmly
defend ourselves against any misconceived allegations".
is confident that, in due course, the Commission will conclude that we
have acted in compliance with European Union competition laws."
© Thomson Reuters 2012