Samsung facing $15B fine for asserting standard-essential patents against Apple

Samsung Corporate HQ (image 001)

Reuters reported last week that the European Union would “very soon” formally charge Samsung for asserting standard essential patents against Apple.

Smelling danger, just days prior to the development the Galaxy maker had withdrawn all its injunction requests in European courts.

Friday morning, UK’s The Guardian newspaper reported that the European Commission could now slap the South Korean conglomerate – the world’s top cell phone maker by volume – with a substantial fine of up to ten percent of its global revenue, amounting to as much as fifteen billion dollars based on Samsung’s 2011 revenue of $148.9 billion… 

Technology editor Charles Arthur explains in a piece published by The Guardian that the European Commission wants to punish the Galaxy maker over its misuse of standard-essential patents related to 3G technology.

Samsung, by contrast, has frequently tried to use its SEPs, which differ from the patents asserted by Apple in that they are only included in a standard such as 3G if the owner makes a formal commitment to license them to allcomers on a “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” basis.

If the licenser and licencee cannot agree on pricing, it is set by a court. The commission noted that Apple had offered to make a payment, but that the two sides differed on the sums involved.

As you’ll recall, Apple won $1.05 billion in damages after a U.S. jury ruled in August that Samsung violated Apple’s design and utility patents related to the iPhone and iPad.

Surprisingly, the Galaxy maker found another enemy in Ericsson, against whom it filed a complaint (after negotiating for almost two years) with the US International Trade Commission asserting a breach of seven of its patents and seeking to put a sales ban on Ericsson products in the US.

Samsung Galaxy S III Mini (two up, front, back)

The firm also recently dropped its bid to ban Apple products in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands without saying whether or not it would proceed with its court battle for compensation.

Samsung’s statement accompanying the move argues it remains “committed to licensing our technologies on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms”. The company added it strongly believes it is “better when companies compete fairly in the marketplace, rather than in court”.

“In this spirit, Samsung has decided to withdraw our injunction requests against Apple on the basis of our standard essential patents pending in European courts, in the interest of protecting consumer choice”, the statement reads.

However, Samsung is still seeking to ban iPhones and iPads elsewhere, including in the United States, Asia and Australia. These injunction requests are equally based on Samsung’s interpretation of standards-essential patents.

ill be home ipad commercial

The European commission’s competition arm wrote in a formal statement of objections issued a week ago that such a practice amounted to a hold-up because “access to those patents which are standard-essential is a precondition for any company to sell interoperable products in the market”.

Samsung will now have to respond to its statement and the Commission will then determine whether to impose a fine or “other measure”, The Guardian explains.

Interestingly enough, Samsung is being investigated on its own turf by The Korea Fair Trade Commission over the same wireless patents abuse it’s been seen exercising around the world.

Some people never learn…