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EU looks into possible Samsung abuse of 3G patents vs. Apple
01/31/12, 7:30am
Samsung may have overstepped its bounds in trying to counter Apple as the European Commission has launched an investigation of its practices. The EU body is hoping to determine whether Samsung breached promises to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to charge fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) rates by suing Apple over 3G in multiple European countries. It wanted to check whether Samsung was trying to "distort competition" and abuse a controlling stake in wireless.

The Commission was keen to downplay the prospects that the investigation was a presumption of guilt, but it did want to treat the case as a "matter of priority."

For Samsung, the investigation could dismantle its entire strategy for suing Apple in Europe, as it has very little else to work from. The company has been claiming that the iPhone 4S and earlier devices were violating 3G patents but, under FRAND rules, isn't allowed to sue if a company has made a reasonable request to license a patent. A Dutch court session inadvertently revealed that Samsung wants 2.4 percent per chip using patents, which may be too high.

Apple has also successfully argued in some courts that Samsung was trying to double-dip on patent rights by charging both chip designer Qualcomm and Apple for use of the same 3G technology.

Neither Apple nor Samsung has commented on the proceedings, although Samsung is likely to contest the investigation and argue that Apple hasn't lived up to its end of negotiations.

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