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By 1 February 2012 | Categories: news

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Samsung’s legal tactics in its heated patent battle against Apple will now become the subject of regulatory scrutiny, as the European Commission has opened a formal investigation into the Korean tech giant. The goal of this probe is to determine if the company has breached antitrust rules when it filed injunctions against competitors, including Apple, within certain EU member countries.

Last year, as part of the ongoing legal exchanges between the two companies, Samsung filed  complaints against Apple in European Union countries including Italy and France. The company claimed that the iPad and iPod maker infringed upon certain of its third generation (3G) mobile phone technology patent rights and also asked the courts to block the sale of the iPhone 4S within those countries.

With this newly launched investigation, EU regulators aim to determine if Samsung Electronics had abused certain of its standard essential patent rights, in order to distort competition in European mobile device markets, breaching EU antitrust rules in the process.

The Commission is looking into whether Samsung’s actions were taken in contravention of a commitment it gave to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), surrounding the use of those patents. According to the Commission, Samsung made an commitment during 1998 to the ETSI, via which the company has to license any standard essential patents relating to European mobile telephony standards to its competitors, on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) basis.

Furthermore, EU regulators are also investigating whether Samsung’s actions amounts to an abuse of a dominant position that is prohibited by Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU).
 
In related news Apple recently reclaimed its position as number one smartphone maker from Samsung, but the Korean firm is biting at Nokia’s Finnish heels in terms of mobile phone shipments.

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