Samsung is in early talks with the European Union’s antitrust regulator to settle charges that the Korean company abused its market position by seeking to bar Apple from using an essential mobile phone patent, Reuters reports.
The report cited sources as saying that Samsung has been involved in settlement discussions for several months now, and that it “wants to settle”.
However, the report also noted that it was still too early to determine if the discussions would result in a settlement – which would mean no finding of wrongdoing for Samsung and no fine. The fine could have reached as much as $17.3 billion if Samsung was found to have breached EU laws, the report added.
In December last year, the European Commission had sent a statement of objection to Samsung, alleging that the manufacturer prevented Apple from using key patents it holds on mobile phone technologies. The charges related to the European Telecommunications Standardization Institute’s 3G UMTS standard.
The European Commission said when this standard was adopted in Europe, Samsung had made a commitment to license the patents that were essential to make this standard work under Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (so-called “FRAND”) terms. Despite this, Samsung started to seek injunctions against Apple in 2011, claiming that it infringed certain 3G UMTS standard-essential patents. This was even though Apple had apparently shown itself as willing to negotiate a FRAND license for the patents, the regulator said.
Samsung and Apple have been in a bitter struggle against each other as they stage fights over patents in court cases in several markets. Last year, Apple scored a $1.05 billion victory in a massive trial against rival Samsung, where the jury voted that nearly every one of Samsung’s devices infringed on Apple patents aside from its tablets – with Apple scoring marks on almost all of its utility and design claims.
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