European competition authorities are investigating claims that Samsung abused patents on smartphone technology to attack Apple.
Samsung and other industry players have agreed to license innovations essential to industry standards on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. This means the patent owner cannot dictate who is allowed to use its patent and the licensing fee cannot be excessive.
Investigators want to find out if Samsung failed to honour this commitment to license key technologies to rivals, which it made in 1998.
Samsung has since made more than ten patent claims against rival Apple in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Italy relating to 3G-essential technologies, according to the BBC.
The courts have so far ruled against Samsung, noting in many cases that Samsung failed to honour its licensing commitments.
But industry analysts say the EC cannot afford to wait until Samsung finally wins a ruling based on such a patent and enforces it, as this would potentially cause irreparable harm.
According to The Telegraph, the investigation marks a major regulatory intervention in Samsung’s patent dispute with Apple, which is ongoing in courts in several jurisdictions, including the US, Germany and Australia.
Apple alleges Samsung’s Galaxy range of smartphones and tablets are “slavish” copies of the iPhone and iPad designs, and has sought injunctions to ban them from sale.