European Commission opens comment period on Samsung's proposed patent remedies

'Interested parties' may offer opinions on Samsung's proposal to avoid EU sanctions

By Jennifer Baker, IDG News Service |  IT Management

Interested parties, including Apple, may comment on a proposal from Samsung to refrain from seeking injunctions for five years against any company that agrees to a licensing framework regarding mobile standard essential patents in Europe.

The European Commission announced Thursday that it would allow the market to "test" what are called "commitments" made by Samsung with the aim of avoiding sanctions over injunctions the South Korean company brought against Apple for using essential patents in several E.U. member states.

Holders of standard essential patents are required to license them on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory, or FRAND, terms. However, Samsung had sought to stop Apple from using particular patents, which the Commission decided was an abuse of Samsung's dominant market position.

As a result, Samsung dropped requests to ban Apple products in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. The company has now offered to abstain from seeking injunctions for mobile standard essential patents for the five-year period when any company agrees to a particular licensing framework.

The Samsung patents in question relate to the European Telecommunications Standardisation Institute's 3G UMTS standard, a key industry standard for mobile and wireless communications.

"Seeking injunctions before courts is generally a legitimate remedy for patent holders in case of patent infringements," the Commission said in a statement. "However, access to patents which are standard-essential is a precondition for any company to sell interoperable products in the market."

Interested parties can submit their comments about Samsung's proposal to the European Commission for one month. If the Commission concludes, in light of the comments received, that the commitments address the competition concerns, it may decide to make them legally binding on Samsung. However if they are not deemed sufficient, it can still decide to fine Samsung up to 10 percent of its global annual turnover.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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