Samsung proposes to end patent litigation in Europe

Harriet Green
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Samsung Electronics has agreed to stop seeking injunctions on certain patents, says the European Commission, giving glimmers of a truce in the smartphone and tablet patent wars. (Release)

The Commission challenged the electrics giant for its pursuit of injunctions that are standard-essential - meaning that the invention being patented has to be used in order to comply with technical standards and is, therefore, necessary for other companies to use.

Rivals Samsung and Apple are at loggerheads in courts in more than 10 countries. Apple is currently making an appeal on a final International Trade Commission ruling in an attempt to widen the ban on the import of Samsung's products to the US.

Samsung has, however, proposed a five-year committal to stop taking rivals to court in Europe over patent disputes in order to end the antitrust investigation, which was opened in January 2012, after the Commission said Samsung's legal disputes broke EU antitrust regulations.

JoaquĆ­n Almunia, Commission vice president in charge of competition policy, said: "Enforcing patents through injunctions can be perfectly legitimate. However, when patents are standard-essential, abuses must be prevented so that standard-setting works properly and consumers do not have to suffer negative consequences from the so-called patent wars. If we reach a good solution in this case, it will bring clarity to the industry."

If the commitments proposed by Samsung provide a satisfactory fix to the competition concerns, they could be adopted as legally binding on Samsung, the Commission said in its statement.

In May of this year, Google's Motorola Mobility was charged by the Commission with a similar anti-competitive offence.

Almunia added that other market players have a month to feed back on Samsung's proposal.