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Samsung mothballs patents for five years

Samsung has abandoned filing patents for at least the next five years as it fights to avoid a multi-billion pound fine for exploiting the patent system in the European Union [EU].

The South Korean firm is being accused by the EU of using standard essential patents [SEPs] to bring anti-trust cases against Apple in the European Economic Area and is facing fines as a result.

“Samsung has offered to abstain from seeking injunctions for mobile SEPs for a period of five years against any company that agrees to a particular licensing framework,” read a statement from the European Commission [EC].

Samsung’s decision relates to mobile SEPs that cover technology implemented in smartphones and tablets. This includes the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System [UMTS] standard that is crucial to cellular 3G data. As well as this the H.264 video compression format that is used by YouTube, Blu-ray disks and Adobe Flash Player has been alluded to in the past.

The EC launched an investigation into Samsung’s patent practices in January 2012 and by the end of the same year it decided that Samsung could have breached Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU [TFEU] that prohibits abuse of a dominant position.

The fine on the table stands at $18.3 billion [£11.3 billion], according to the BBC, and comes in the wake of Samsung and Apple battling it out in 10 countries across the continent.

“Enforcing patents through injunctions can be perfectly legitimate. However, when patents are standard-essential, abuses must be prevented so that standard-setting works properly and consumers do not have to suffer negative consequences from the so-called patent wars. If we reach a good solution in this case, it will bring clarity to the industry,” said Joaquín Almunia, VP in charge of competition policy at the EC.

Interested parties have one month to submit opinions on the commitment offered by Samsung.

Image Credit: Flickr (samsungtomorrow)