Well, we didn’t see this coming. Samsung has said today that it has dropped injunction requests against Apple across Europe, withdrawing them in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands “in the interest of protecting consumer choice.”

Samsung provided a statement to The Verge, which reads:

“Samsung remains committed to licensing our technologies on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, and we strongly believe it is better when companies compete fairly in the marketplace, rather than in court. In this spirit, Samsung has decided to withdraw our injunction requests against Apple on the basis of our standard essential patents pending in European courts, in the interest of protecting consumer choice.”

Samsung notes that it has dropped injunction requests against Apple as it “remains committed to licensing [its] technologies on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.” FRAND licenses enable companies to share knowledge across the industry and work to developing open standards and technologies such as 3G or WiFi.

It is likely the announcement follows investigations by the European Commission, which opened an antitrust probe over suspicions that the company was denying fair access to patents it holds on standardised technology for mobile phones.

The probe looked into whether Samung illegally prevented competitiors, which includes Apple, from using key patents it holds on mobile phone technologies, despite committing to doing so in 1998.

Samsung’s announcement comes just hours after it was revealed that Apple had been denied its request for a permanent sales ban on 26 Samsung devices that it believes infringe upon its patents.

This doesn’t mean that Samsung is dropping its lawsuits in Europe or globally (nor does it mean Apple will either), but it has conceded that fairly licensing its patents in Europe may help it escape action from the European Commission, possibly providing a basis whereby sales of its own products may not be restricted by Apple on the continent in the future.