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Samsung’s Settlement Proposal
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The Suwon, South Korea-based company had promised in October that it wouldn’t seek injunctions to block sales of smartphones and tablets using patents that are part of a technology standard for five years against companies willing to seek fair licensing terms. Bloomberg reported that after Samsung’s rivals and customers agree that the company’s offer allays antitrust concerns, regulators can make the offer binding on Samsung and end the EU probe as well as any threat of a fine.

The EU opened an investigation into Samsung in January 2012 on injunctions it took in 2011 to block the sales of Apple products using Samsung’s third-generation mobile-phone technology patents. Regulators said Apple was willing to license the patents on fair terms and Samsung’s injunctions violated competition rules.

  
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Samsung, which has clashed with Apple Inc. over patents, may have to address concerns over how it will handle disputes over the technology. Samsung and Apple have been fighting each other in court over patents for years, and both sides have played nasty. However, Samsung overstepped the mark when it used SEPs against Apple in Germany — these are patents that are (as the term suggests) essential to certain standards. In this case, without using Samsung’s patented technologies, you cannot make a 3G phone. That’s what makes this an antitrust case, and an important one at that.

The SEPs affair is quite different. It is not a matter of giving competitors their chance to shine; it is about letting those competitors play in the mobile space in the first place. And it’s not a situation that will fundamentally change in five years’ time.

The big problem with Samsung’s settlement proposal is its five-year term. Once those five years are up, the average consumer will have had a good chance to see that Internet Explorer wasn’t the only option. And it’s worked – just ask Mozilla and Google, whose Firefox and Chrome browsers have been allowed to thrive through the magic of informed consumer choice.

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Image Credit: The UK Telegraph





 

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