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Samsung: Psst, EU regulator. About that $17.3bn fine... let's talk

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Samsung is in discussions with the EU about settling charges of anti-competitive behaviour against Apple, in order to slip the potential $17.3bn fine it faces if found guilty.

The news comes from Reuters, which has been chatting to a couple of "people familiar with the matter" and discovered Samsung has opened negotiations rather than fighting the charges head-on.

There would be no admission of guilt, and no possibility of a billion-dollar fine, but it would end one battle in the ongoing war between Samsung and Apple.

The EU has been investigating Samsung's use of injunctions to prevent the sale of certain Apple kit which - according to Samsung - infringes its patents. But those patents are subject to Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing, so Samsung isn't permitted to deny Apple a licence - or charge Cupertino any more than anyone else.

FRAND is, however, quite woolly when it comes to the details. Exact pricing is confidential and often bundled with other services so it's hard for a company like Apple to prove discriminatory pricing but Samsung obviously feels the EU is close to achieving that.

If Samsung has breached EU rules then it could be in line for a whopping fine: up to $17.3bn according to Reuters. It would probably be much less than that, but still worth avoiding if possible and Samsung will have to offer serious concessions to slip away.

On the other side of the pond, Apple is still fighting to keep its older iPhones and iPads on the shelves following a ban on their import from the International Trade Commission (the US body which controls import and export of goods).

That ban kicks in next week, unless Apple can convince the ITC to change its mind, or the President to intervene on public interest grounds. Apple's latest filing (examined by 21st Century mudlark Florian Mueller, available on Scribd) tries various arguments to achieve that.

Samsung seems to be getting better at its legal battles. It’s certainly getting plenty of practice, but there's still a very long way to go before we'll see any sign of peaceful resolution.

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