Did Apple Land Samsung in Big Trouble?

The war between Samsung and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has reached government ears in Europe, with the European Union’s executive body accusing the Korean company of abusing its dominant position in the market to gain an advantage in legal disputes. The European Commission announced it had sent a formal complaint to Samsung regarding the misuse of standard-essential patents as legal weapons, Bloomberg said.

“Intellectual property rights are an important cornerstone of the single market,” Joaquín Almunia, the European Commissioner for Competition, said in a statement. “However, such rights should not be misused when they are essential to implement industry standards, which bring huge benefits to businesses and consumers alike. When companies have contributed their patents to an industry standard and have made a commitment to license the patents in return for fair remuneration, then the use of injunctions against willing licensees can be anti-competitive.”

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According to the complaint, the EU is investigating whether Samsung violated its duty to license the standard-essential patents to rivals under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory, or FRAND, terms. The Korean company has asserted some of those patents against Apple in several court cases to seek product injunctions.

Earlier last week, Samsung said it would drop such legal action in Europe and added that while it had been willing to license its patents on fair terms, it sought bans “due to Apple’s unwillingness to enter into good-faith negotiations and to defend ourselves against Apple, which sued us first.”

Samsung is withdrawing injunction requests in Germany, U.K., France, Italy, and the Netherlands, but according to Almunia, such a move is not enough to prevent an investigation from regulators. The EU probe will include an investigation into Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) unit Motorola’s cases against Apple as well.

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