Korea launches probe into Samsung over wireless patents abuse

By , Sep 6, 2012

Samsung is under fire in its home turf of South Korea over an alleged abuse of its wireless patents, Reuters reported today. The Korea Fair Trade Commission confirmed that the country’s watchdog has launched an investigation based on Apple’s antitrust complaints against Samsung which alleges that the Galaxy maker is abusing its patents to gain an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

Of course, Apple won a landmark victory in a high-stake U.S. trial last month that found Samsung guilty of breaching Apple’s design and utility patents. The jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages and ruled that the iPhone maker had not violated any of Samsung’s patents.

Samsung later promised to sue Apple immediately if the next iPhone is released with support for fourth-generation Long-Term Evolution (LTE) radio technology…

Samsung promised back in 1998 to license its 3G patents to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute on FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms, but apparently regulators in both South Korea and European Union are taking an issue with that, Reuters reported:

The FTC is investigating whether Samsung is unfairly competing in the market by abusing its dominance in wireless technology patents. Apple filed its complaints earlier this year, said an FTC official, who is not authorized to talk to the media.

European Union regulators have also been investigating Samsung for possible breaches of antitrust rules by accusing rivals of infringing its technology patents.

As for Samsung’s threats to sue Apple over 4G LTE technology in the iPhone 5, patent bloger Florian Müeller explained why the Galaxy maker really cannot get the iPhone 5 banned over 4G LTE patents:

It tried this trick last year with 3G patent assertions against the iPhone 4S, with a hit rate of zero. I would strongly discourage Samsung from trying to use 4G/LTE-essential patents to shut down the iPhone 5.

It won’t improve Samsung’s position. It will only make things worse, especially with antitrust regulators. In my view, the reasonable approach for Samsung would be to sue for FRAND royalties over its SEPs, not injunctions.

According to this Korea Times article, Samsung owns the world’s third-largest 4G/LTE portfolio, though that doesn’t matter much because it only takes one bullet to kill.

Additionally, the iPhone 5 is said to carry a Qualcomm baseband chip and Qualcomm and Samsung have a patent license agreement in place, meaning its 4G LTE patent infringement assertion probably won’t yield desired results.

Care to extend an opinion?

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  • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

    People should Google: Samsung CEO charged with fraud wont be arrested

    “Oh Lee Kun-hee — if you keep this up, you’re going to make the Enron CEOs look like choir boys. The latest episode in the unending shame-game that is Samsung’s corporate improprieties
    comes in the form of a an actual indictment against the
    electronic-maker’s top man… for fraud. According to a report out of
    Australia, prosecutors in Korea have formally charged Kun-hee (who has admitted guilt
    anyhow), but say they won’t arrest him because it would cause “enormous
    disruption” in the company’s operations. Authorities said instead they
    plan to send him to a week-long, all-expenses-paid trip to a luxurious
    spa, and hope that a deep tissue rub will rid him of his lawbreaking
    ways.”

    About Samsung, nothing more to add.

  • f96lrs

    It about time he got cought

  • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

    I wish both companies would just shut up and get back to work on releasing great products. Stop the pissing match already. Makes both companies look like whiny little spoiled brats.

    I like both Samsung and Apple… I just think the patent wars are ridiculous.

    • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

      This is not new my friend. Patents wars are older than most of the people nowadays thing. From Microsoft, to Oracle, from Nokia, to HTC… there were always patent wars. It’s their portfolio and they do everything to protect them against their competitors.

      Even Microsoft owned a patent over “mouse double click” … seems crazy but is also true. Which make me belive that some patents are crazy, indeed, but they are the only thing that protect copyright infrigement in court… unfortunately.

      But in this case, Samsung can be accused over anti-trust because they are trying to beat the competition over FRAND patents. Samsung are making the things worst for them. We are not taking here about “copies” but about a standard technology.

      • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

        It just seems lately that patent trolling has become way to mainstream. The patent office apparently is full of idiots. Something as trivial as how you click a mouse should not be a patent. Patents should be about something truly different and innovative. Colors of icons, rounded corners, double clicks, right clicks and stuff like that should not belong to any company.

      • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

        some things look silly indeed, but others make sense, specially the way a UI look like. Just to avoid copycats. I think the only way, at the moment, is using patents over those things.. unfortunatly.

      • http://twitter.com/purpledodi Jens Tinnerholm

        Next phone will be a nokia and wp8. Then i dont care if apple and samsung destroys eachother

      • No more Obama

        920 is a gorgeous phone. i was showing my wife it last night. amazing camera. best phone camera hands down.

  • maverickmax

    sam’s”ucks”ung!!

    • Liu Zhenyu

      Nice

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

    Or the patent system could work like it’s supposed to (ya know, only have real innovations patentable), and put all the essential patents out there for everyone. Imagine that, billions, if not trillions in the long run, saved, and better products for everyone!