Samsung has submitted a proposal to the European Union in which they promise not to sue competitors in the region over “standard-essential” patents (SEPs) for the next five years. The European Commission will leave the proposal open to comments or objects for a period of one month at which time they will decide if they want to make the agreement legally binding.
European Commission vice president in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia pointed out that enforcing patents through injunctions can be perfectly legitimate. When dealing with standard-essential patents, however, abuse must be prevented such that standard-setting works properly and consumers do not have to deal with the negative consequences of patent wars.
Alumnia believes if they are able to reach a good solution in this particular case, it will bring clarity to the entire industry. I, for one, will be keeping my fingers crossed.
Samsung was hit with antitrust violations by the EU in December and could be facing a hefty fine of up to $18.3 billion. The Commission believes the Korean tech giant may have abused their patent portfolio to suppress competition in regions where they are dominant. Instead of using lawsuits to block rivals from releasing products, they should be offering licenses that would allow competitors to uses their technology at a reasonable fee, according to the EU.
The proposal on the table, which was submitted last month, is a bid to avoid punishment. We’ll keep an eye on this one as it develops but it seems highly unlikely that Samsung will be hit with the full amount of the fine.