DoJ reprimands Samsung over leveraging standards-essential patents for import ban


The Galaxy maker Samsung has been reprimanded by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) over its improper use of standards-essential patents in litigation. As Samsung leveraged standards-essential patents to seek an import ban against older Apple products into the United States, DoJ has decided to scold but not fine Samsung as a message of sorts to other companies that asserting these patents to hamper competition isn’t acceptable. The full reveal is after the break…

According to DoJ, it would not take action against Samsung because of the Presidential veto.

Instead, it only warned that standards-essential patents must be licensed on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory Terms (FRAND) terms before seeking an import ban:

In many cases, there is a risk that the patent holder could use the threat of an exclusion order to obtain licensing terms that are more onerous than would be justified by the value of the technology itself, effectively exploiting the market power obtained through the standards-setting process.

DoJ’ statement officially marks the end of an investigation into Samsung’s FRAND moves against Apple.

As a quick reminder, the Galaxy maker sought an import ban order from the International Trade Commission (ITC) based on its ruling that some Apple devices infringed certain Samsung patents.

This in turn prompted the President of the United States to intervene and issue a last-minute order reversing the U.S. import ban on iPhones and iPads.

Patent blogger Florian Müeller noted:

I can easily see the political reasoning here: the veto was (even though incorrectly in my view) portrayed by some as an act of protectionism, and if the U.S. government had now additionally imposed fines on Samsung for what it attempted to do, those voices would only have become louder.

The DoJ’s decision should be also viewed in light of the Samsung v. Apple trial scheduled to start on March 31.

I’m not sure how exactly Samsung manages to always escape from any real consequences for their actions.

You may argue that Samsung’s move is no different than Apple seeking an import ban on Samsung products, but that’s not really the case – Apple’s request to ban was not based on standards-essential patents.