Samsung in talks to settle EU antitrust case involving Apple & essential patents

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Facing an antitrust lawsuit from the European Union for allegedly abusing its ownership of standard-essential patents, Samsung has reportedly begun talks with regulators to settle the charges before a trial can begin.

Citing two people familiar with the matter, Reuters reported on Tuesday that preliminary settlement talks have begun between Samsung and the European Commission, which is the competition regulator for the EU. Among the companies who are alleged to have been hurt by Samsung's actions are rival smartphone maker Apple.

Samsung was formally charged by the European Commission last December. The Korean electronics maker is accused of abusing its dominant market position to gain a foothold in legal disputes being waged against Apple.

Specifically, Samsung has been accused of misusing standard-essential patents it owns as legal weapons to gain leverage in its ongoing patent infringement disputes against Apple. Samsung, however, has a duty to license standard-essential patents to rivals under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

Apple, too, has argued that Samsung did not meet its requirements as a standard-essential patent holder. Instead, it has accused Samsung of filing lawsuits seeking injunctions against Apple devices for those patents before making a licensing offer.

Now, with EU regulators prepared to go to court, Samsung actively "wants to settle," one source quoted in Tuesday's report said. However, they added it's too early to determine whether the current talks would actually result in a deal that would allow Samsung to avoid fines of as much as $17.3 billion.

The U.S. Department of Justice is said to have also taken an interest in Samsung's lawsuits involving standard-essential patents. However, while the DOJ has reportedly opened an investigation against Samsung, no antitrust suit has been filed.