US drops anti-trust probe of Samsung [Big News Network (United Arab Emirates)]
(Big News Network (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge)
WASHINGTON The US Department of Justice has closed its investigation of Samsung Electronics over alleged claims that it used its patents portfolio to exclude some Apple iPhone and iPad models from the U.S. market.
The Department has been investigating for years whether Samsung was using its Standard Essential Patents patents for technologies that are incorporated into industry standards and must be licensed on "fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms" to keep Apple products from being sold in the U.S.
Department of Justice became concerned when Samsung appeared to be using the threat of import bans to raise licensing rates.
The Justice Department and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have argued that sales bans imposed as punishments for infringing on these patents should be done only in very rare cases.
Otherwise, patent holders "could use the threat of an exclusion order to obtain licensing terms that are more onerous than would be justified by the value of the technology itself," the Justice Department said.
In effect it would potentially compromise competition in the open market.
Apple has claimed that some Samsung wireless patents are being offered on unfair terms, hurting competition.
Last year, Samsung obtained an exclusion order against Apple from the U.S. International Trade Commission that would have barred the import of some Apple smart phones and tablet computers.
Through the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the Obama administration intervened to prevent a ban on those Apple products.
As a result, the Justice Department Friday said it is closing its investigation. The department says it will continue to monitor developments in the area.
"As a result of the USTR's action, the Antitrust Division has determined that no further action is required at this time," the Justice Department said in a statement.
"The Antitrust Division is therefore closing its investigation into Samsung's conduct, but will continue to monitor further developments in this area."
Representatives of Samsung and Apple declined to comment on the decision.
The Justice Department decision doesn't mean the battles between Samsung and Apple will die down any time soon.
Samsung recently signed a cross-licensing deal with Google which covers existing intellectual property as well as patents filed over the next ten years.
Apple, which revolutionized the smartphone, and Samsung, which makes mobile phones based on Google's Android software, have fought tooth-and-nail over patents in more than 10 countries, seeking a competitive edge.
Heading into another patent trial due to start in March, Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, and his Samsung counterpart, Kwon Oh-hyun, have agreed to a mediation session by February 19.
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