Patent lawsuits have unfortunately become commonplace within the tech industry over these last couple of years. The US legal system seems more than happy to side with Apple on most of these disputes, now it looks like Europe aren’t too happy with Samsung, either. The European Commission formally launched an investigation into Samsung’s licensing practices when it comes to patents 20 months ago. Now, Samsung feel as if they have the answer.
The EC’s main complaint with Samsung was to do with how they license standard essential patents. Basically, these cover the sort of patents that you need to create functioning devices. To keep the industry coming along nicely, the EC demands that such patents must be licensed to other manufacturers. However, whomever licenses the patents has the right to be paid handsomely for them. In the past though, this has led to claims of extortion and inflating the value of said patents.
Samsung risks facing antitrust claims for the EC if it doesn’t clean up its act, and with it would come a considerable amount of heat from the Commission. Understandably, Samsung wants to avoid this and so it seems that they’ve come up with a plan. Which is to essentially play nice. Samsung has put forward a proposal to stop seeking injunctions or legal action with parties looking to license standard patents, including folks like Apple. Samsung promise to do this for the next five years, in which it agrees to a 12-month period of negotiation with such parties. If an agreement isn’t reached concerning licensing, Samsung will rely on the courts to draw up a deal.
This is a smart move from Samsung and it should be more than enough for the EC to take a step back from the Korean giant. Samsung will get paid for their patents and it would probably reduce their legal costs dramatically. Samsung have a sizable warchest but, judging from past experiences, they might want to take it easy for a while.