Ok, it seems like January is a bad month for Samsung. Two of Samsung’s patent infringement lawsuits against Apple were rejected in Germany just a couple of days ago.
On top of that, today the European Commission has started a formal antitrust investigation against Samsung. EU regulators will be investigating whether Samsung broke antitrust rules by seeking injunctions against rivals like Apple. Samsung had apparently pledged that it would license its essential patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.
Despite the fact that the patent lawsuits by Samsung against Apple were rejected, probably because they were essential FRAND patents, the European Commission is opening an investigation against Samsung to assess if it “used certain of its standard essential patent rights to distort competition in European mobile device markets”, and failed to honor its commitment to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute to license those patents on fair and reasonable terms.
The European Commission could fine Samsung up to 10% of its global turnover if it is found guilty of breaching the rules. The fine could turn out to be a very hefty amount, in the tens of billions of dollars.
Samsung recently reported its Q4 2011 earnings, recording $42 billion in revenue and $4.7 billion in operating profit.