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Samsung fined $340k for trolling HTC online

Taiwanese officials this week handed down a $340,000 (£209,787) fine against Samsung for waging what they considered to be an unfair online campaign against HTC devices.

As noted by the BBC, Samsung allegedly hired an advertising firm that paid students and bloggers to write posts and comments online that praised Samsung's products but were critical of gadgets from rival HTC.

The advertising firm, OpenTide Taiwan, was also fined just over $100,000 (£61,715). It reportedly provided regular reports about its activity to Samsung, so the Korean phone maker knew about the campaign, BBC said.

"We are disappointed that the Taiwan FTC has decided that we have violated the Fair Trade Act based on online marketing activities. However, we remain committed to engaging in transparent and honest communication with consumers," a Samsung spokeswoman said in a statement.

"Samsung Electronics Taiwan is carefully reviewing the decision and will take all necessary steps to protect our reputation as a company which values its customers. Samsung Electronics Taiwan will continue to provide exceptional value for consumers in Taiwan through a wide variety of innovative products and services."

An HTC spokesman said that "as this is a legal matter between Samsung and the Taiwanese government, we will opt not to comment."

It's been a bit of a rough week for Samsung. It also had to issue an apology to Chinese customers after an investigation found that some of its smartphones were faulty.

Still, as the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday, Samsung is expected to post operating profit of $9.3 billion (£5.74 billion) for the quarter, so $340,000 isn't exactly going to break the bank.

Given that Samsung is the world's top phone maker, meanwhile, the campaign likely just added insult to injury for the struggling HTC. The two companies are battling in the Android smartphone space - the HTC One vs. the Samsung Galaxy S 4.

Image: Flickr (Pondspider)