Friday, November 30, 2012

[ MSWL - Legal Aspects ]

Apple: Justice Department Investigating Samsung's Use of Patents

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether Samsung Electronics Co. (005930.SE, SSNHY) has misused some of its mobile-device patents in ways that violate antitrust law, rival Apple Inc. (AAPL) said in a legal document filed late Monday.
The department is investigating Samsung's use of patents that are deemed essential to wireless-technology standards adopted by the industry, Apple said in a filing with the U.S. International Trade Commission.
The ITC is one of several legal bodies that are refereeing patent-infringement disputes between the two companies.
Apple has accused the South Korea-based company of using certain patents as a basis for improper legal actions that seek to block the sale of competitors' products. Apple said in its ITC filing that Samsung violated commitments to license its essential patents to competitors on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment or confirm the probe. Neither Samsung nor Apple responded to requests for comment.
According to a person familiar with the probe, the department has been conducting the investigation for several months. The European Commission also has been investigating Samsung's patent conduct, a probe it announced in late January.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which shares U.S. antitrust authority with the Justice Department, has been conducting a similar investigation examining how Google Inc. (GOOG) has used patents it acquired when it purchased device-maker Motorola Mobility, according to people familiar with the matter.
When the Justice Department cleared Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility in February, it signaled that regulators would be monitoring how companies use essential patents in the wireless industry.

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