Feeds

EU antitrust bods: Motorola, Samsung too dominant to take on poor little Apple

Lawsuits using standards-essential patents are out - EC

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Motorola and Samsung have escaped with a stern finger-wagging from the EU after using standards-essential patents (SEP) to stop the sale of Apple devices in Europe.

The European Commission’s antitrust division said that Moto’s attempt to enforce an injunction on Apple gear based on a smartphone SEP was “an abuse of a dominant position” and was prohibited by anti-competition laws.

EC competition regulators also accepted commitments from Samsung that it wouldn’t try to ban competing smartphones and tablets on the basis of SEPs, so long as the potential licensee was signed up to the specified licensing framework.

"The so-called smartphone patent wars should not occur at the expense of consumers,” competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement. “This is why all industry players must comply with the competition rules.

“Our decision on Motorola, together with today's decision to accept Samsung's commitments, provides legal clarity on the circumstances in which injunctions to enforce standard essential patents can be anti-competitive.

“While patent holders should be fairly remunerated for the use of their intellectual property, implementers of such standards should also get access to standardised technology on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. It is by preserving this balance that consumers will continue to have access to a wide choice of interoperable products,” he added.

Although the commission found that Moto had breached EU law when it forced some older models of iDevices off the shelves of its online store in Germany after a ruling in Mannheim on an SEP, it managed to avoid a fine. The EU has no case law on the legality of actions over this kind of patent and “national courts have so far reached diverging conclusions”, the commission said.

However, a Motorola settlement where the firm wrongly forced Apple to give up its right to challenge the validity of the patents or whether its products were infringing by threatening an injunction was also deemed illegal and the commission ordered Moto to get rid of the “anti-competitive clauses”.

Motorola, Samsung and other telecoms firms have started bringing SEP into court decisions as they scramble for a long-lasting seat in the lucrative mobile market. The US is also looking into of using these patents in court battles and the EU opened its formal probe into Motorola early in 2012, after complaints from both Apple and Microsoft.

Later the same year, it started to look at Samsung’s attempts to seek injunctions on Apple products on the basis of its own SEPs.

To avoid any sanctions, Samsung has committed to avoid using SEPs to seek bans for the next five years. Instead, courts or arbitrators will be able to rule on the terms that are fair and reasonable to license Sammy patents in the event of a dispute. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.