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Department of Justice Closes Samsung’s Investigation over Patent Abuses
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The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division has announced the closing of its investigation into Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd over its use of its portfolio of standards-essential patents. The investigation was into allegations raised in the Apple-Samsung patents war where Apple alleged Samsung of abuse of the licensing of standards-essential patents.

The DOJ’ statement observed that the Antitrust Division’s investigation had focused on Samsung’s attempts to use its SEPs to obtain exclusion orders from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) relating to certain iPhone and iPad models.


The Antitrust Division said in its statement, “The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) reviewed the exclusion order issued by the ITC against Apple at Samsung’s request and overturned it, determining that it was not consistent with the public interest. As a result of the USTR’s action, the Antitrust Division has determined that no further action is required at this time. The Antitrust Division is therefore closing its investigation into Samsung’s conduct, but will continue to monitor further developments in this area.”

The investigation was continued in cooperation with other international agencies and the DOJ confirmed that throughout the investigation, the Antitrust Division had worked closely and consulted frequently with its colleagues at the European Commission.

The DOJ also mentioned in the statement that the government is not fond of sales bans as a frequent remedy to patent infringements. The DOJ said, “A number of competitive issues arise when holders of SEPs seek to block their competitors from selling products that implement the SEPs.”

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Admitting that “there are certain circumstances where an exclusion order as a remedy for infringement of such patents could be appropriate,” the DOJ said, “in many cases, there is a risk that the patent holder could use the threat of an exclusion order to obtain licensing terms that are more onerous than would be justified by the value of the technology itself, effectively exploiting the market power obtained through the standards-setting process.”

However, closing of the present investigation does not leave patent infringers or Samsung off the hooks, for the DOJ clarified that the Antitrust Division is “closing its investigation into Samsung’s conduct, but will continue to monitor further developments in this area.”


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