South Korea’s FTC to Investigate Samsung’s Patent Abuse

Samsung Headquarters in Samsung Town, Seoul

Source: Samsung Headquarters in Samsung Town, Seoul | Wikipedia

Because of Samsung’s “enormous political clout,” the Fair Trade Commission of South Korea will investigate the company’s alleged standards essential patent abuse.

According to a report by patent blogger Florian Mueller, Apple has charged Samsung that it is abusing the standards essential patents. The patents were said to be already committed to fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory licensing terms. However, there were claims that the South Korean conglomerate is using it to block the Cupertino-based company’s products from the market.

Thus, South Korea’s regulatory agency has joined the European Commission in looking into Samsung’s efforts to use its standards essential patents. By abusing the standards essential patents, it means that the company is using its license to seek injunctions against older iPhone models.

The move came at the heels of Korean court’s determination that both companies had infringed each other’s patents. This infringement resulted in the national sales injunctions of both companies’ older device models.

Korea FTC’s “Courageous” Move

On the other hand, it appears that Korea is seeking to maintain fairness while protecting Samsung. This means that injunctions are likely to stay while the ruling is being appealed.

According to Mueller, FTC of Korea made a “courageous” decision, despite the “enormous political clout” that the conglomerate had in its home country. He also added that this “shows that the Korean government is not prepared to turn its country into a FRAND rogue state only because it may suit Samsung’s short-term tactical needs in a global patent spat.”

Abusing Patents: Who’s Doing It?

In a report by the Korean Times, U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Chief John Read told Korean delegates that he hopes to see Samsung sell its products in the United States despite the verdict. The verdict that Read talks about was reached by a U.S. District Court jury, which awarded Apple more than one billion dollars in damages and returned profits due to patent infringements.

Meanwhile, the iPhone maker’s critics have vilified that jury and its decision “failed to fulfill their function” for not determining that Apple’s patents were invalid. However, the legal battles between Apple and Samsung cannot be simplified to a fight of open source software against proprietary patents.

Both are pushing their patent rights against each other and looking for sales injunction against each other’s products. The only difference is that Apple is protecting what it thinks is its original inventions, while Samsung wants to leverage its patented contribution to open standards to extract punitive sales ban and monetary awards.

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