A few days ago we learned that Samsung has withdrawn its FRAND patent-based cases against Apple in Europe, but also that the European commission will still investigate the company’s use of standard essential 3G patents in such lawsuits against competitors.
Meanwhile, The Guardian has learned that Samsung faces a hefty fine following this investigation, which would be quite a price to pay for attacking Apple in several European markets using such patents.
Apparently the commission can ask Samsung to pay fines up to 10% of the company’s worldwide turnover for 2011. That translates into almost $15 billion, as Samsung’s 2011 revenues amounted to $148.9 billion. That would be a huge blow for the South Korean giant, significantly more important than Apple’s $1.05 billion win from late August, which was recently upheld by a U.S. court.
That doesn’t mean Samsung will necessarily pay a maximum fine, not to mention that we don’t know exactly what the status of the investigation is. But it certainly sounds like a serious thing and it does explain why Samsung decided its best not to follow on its European injunction requests targeting Apple iOS products.
Moreover, we will remind you that Google’s Motorola faces similar fines following a similar approach to suing the competition – in this case both Apple and Microsoft – for infringing its own set of FRAND patents.
We’re already looking forward to see various interesting mobile gadgets next year, but unfortunately the patent wars won’t disappear from our radar. In fact, Android device makers have begun fighting among themselves as well, with Samsung and LG attacking each other’s Android devices via display-related patents.