Back in 2012 we briefly covered the news that the European Commission was going to investigate Samsung for abusing their Standard Essential Patents (SEP) against Apple. At the end of 2013 we reported that the EU wasn't happy with Samsung's initial Anti-Trust offer to end its patent dispute with Apple. Today, the European Commission adopted a decision with finds both Motorola and Samsung guilty of abusing their Standard Essential Patents. Yet the punishment doled out to Motorola for starting this war against Apple over essential patents ended up being a joke. Their big punishment was nothing more than a roaring press release with no bite. Yes, a polite little slap on the wrist. Yet perhaps there's a silver lining to all of this.
Motorola Abused their Essential Patents against Apple
The European Commission published a press release today that notes that they've adopted a decision which finds that Motorola Mobility's (Motorola) seeking and enforcement of an injunction against Apple before a German court on the basis of a smartphone standard essential patent (SEP) constitutes an abuse of a dominant position prohibited by EU antitrust rules in view of the particular circumstances in which the injunction was used. The Commission has ordered Motorola to eliminate the negative effects resulting from it.
Samsung Abused their Essential Patents against Apple
The Commission today has also taken a commitment decision in a separate investigation concerning Samsung.
The Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: "The so-called smartphone patent wars should not occur at the expense of consumers. This is why all industry players must comply with the competition rules. Our decision on Motorola, together with today's decision to accept Samsung's commitments, provides legal clarity on the circumstances in which injunctions to enforce standard essential patents can be anti-competitive. This will also contribute to ensuring the proper functioning of standard-setting in Europe.
While patent holders should be fairly remunerated for the use of their intellectual property, implementers of such standards should also get access to standardised technology on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. It is by preserving this balance that consumers will continue to have access to a wide choice of interoperable products".
No Meaningful Penalty
After the Commission studied this case, the end result is somewhat of a Joke. According the Commission's press release "The Commission decided not to impose a fine on Motorola in view of the fact that there is no case-law by the European Union Courts dealing with the legality under Article 102 TFEU of SEP-based injunctions and that national courts have so far reached diverging conclusions on this question."
Though in the end, you could view it as yet another victory for Apple's legal team. On principle, they took the bully to court and won. Hmm, what's that Google saying again … "Don't be Evil." I guess Motorola didn't get the memo. Then again, who the hell listens to that slogan at Google anyways!
To view the rest of the Commission's press release click here.