Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/24/justice_department_investigating_samsung_standard_essential_patents/

Apple slips bomb into ITC filing: Samsung being PROBED by US gov

Korean firm under investigation over use of standards-essential patents

By Anna Leach

Posted in Hardware, 24th October 2012 11:27 GMT

The United States government is investigating whether Samsung is misusing the standards-essential patents that it holds, rival Apple said in a document it filed with the International Trade Commission on Monday.

Samsung holds several standards-essential patents covering data transmission from mobile devices, which it is under an obligation to license to rivals at a fair and reasonable rate (FRAND terms). If Samsung is found to be misusing standards-essential patents, the Department of Justice has the power to fine Samsung, jail its execs or even ban Samsung products.

Samsung is also under investigation for its Standards Essential Patents by the European Commission and South Korea's Fair Trade Commission.

Apple have moaned about Samsung's grip on standards essential patents before, but we didn't know the US Justice department was looking into it, until now. The department has so far refrained from commenting.

The probe into how Samsung licenses standards-essential patents was revealed by ANOTHER patent investigation. Apple dropped a reference to the Department of Justice investigation in a filing to the International Trade Commission regarding a separate spat with Samsung. Apple says:

The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the manner in which Samsung has used - or misused - its declared-essential patents, as has the European Commission.

Apples also states that Samsung is not licensing its key patents fairly and that this is harming the public interest:

Samsung’s assertion of declared-essential patents was incompatible with Samsung’s FRAND (fair reasonable and non-discriminatory) commitments and the public interest.

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Apple's filing to the International Trade Commission, 22 October 2012, is part of the case: Certain Mobile Electronic Devices, Including Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music and Data Processing Devices, and Tablet Computers; Inv. No. 337-TA-794 [PDF - but you'll need to register].