EU Won’t Stand for Patent Abuse by Companies

The European Union has put its foot down about abuse of power in the market. EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia warned on Friday that he is not afraid to fine companies who breach EU rules by using their patents to squelch competition, said Reuters.

Almunia made the statement during a speech in Paris as EU competition regulators investigate a legal dust up between Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics over intellectual property rights in 10 countries, Reuters said.

The authority, which regulates competition for the 27-member bloc, is also examining U.S. conglomerate Honeywell International Inc (NYSE:HON) and chemical company DuPont (NYSE:DD) to decide whether their patent agreements of on a new global refrigerant for car air conditioners is detrimental to competition.

Almunia told the Concurrences Journal conference that companies that own “such standard essential patents” have been given a substantial amount of power in the market that they must not be allowed to abuse.

“I am determined to use antitrust enforcement to prevent the misuse of patent rights to the detriment of a vigorous and accessible market,” said Almunia. “I have initiated investigations on this issue in several sectors and we will see the results in due time.” Companies can be fined as much as 10 percent of their global turnover for breaking EU rules.