Samsung Electronics is reported to be in preliminary talks with EU regulators to settle charges that it abused its market position by barring rival Apple from using an essential mobile phone patent.
Samsung and Apple, the world’s top two smartphone makers by volume and sales, are locked in patent disputes in at least 10 countries as they vie to dominate the lucrative and fast-growing mobile market and win over customers with their latest gadgets.
The talks came after the European Commission, which acts as EU competition regulator, told Samsung in December that it was acting unfairly by seeking injunctions against Apple over use of the essential patents.
“Samsung has been involved in settlement discussions for several months now. Samsung wants to settle,” said one of the sources, who requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter.
The sources say it is still too early to say if the discussions will result in a settlement. A settlement would mean a finding of no wrong doing on Samsung’s part, and no fines for the electronics giant. If no settlement is reached, it could mean as much as $17.3 billion if the South Korean firm is found to be in breach of EU laws.
The European Commission declined comment, and Samsung was not immediately available for comment.
The case against Samsung centers on essential patents for the European Union’s 3G UMTS standard. The company had pledged to license its patents to rivals on fair terms when the standard was adopted in Europe. However, Samsung began to seek injunctions against Apple’s use of these patents in various EU countries in 2011.