It seems that it’s impossible to go a week without something washing up in the wake of Apple vs Samsung. This time, the United States Department of Justice is investigating Samsung for possible abuse of its standard-essential (or FRAND) patents.

The Statement

A statement filed  by Apple with the International Trade Commission, filed yesterday and entered into the public record today, states that “the Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the manner in which Samsung has used–or misused–its declared-essential patents.”

If this sounds especially familiar, it could be due to the story that we ran last week about Google considering a settlement in the antitrust case that the FTC been building against them. In that case, Google claimed that many of its competitors, including Apple, had acted the same way: pursuing litigation right away without trying to licence their patents first. With Apple and Samsung at each other’s throats, it’s easy to see why Apple would claim this, but the question at hand is whether there is anything to back it up.

Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents says “I have no doubt that Apple’s representation is accurate because Apple would otherwise risk major problems with the ITC and the DoJ.”  He mentions a Bloomberg article from June 30 where an unidentified source states that “U.S. antitrust regulators have agreed the FTC will focus on Motorola Mobility and the Justice Department will scrutinize Samsung Electronics Co.’s handling of industry-standard patent claims.”

There is no doubt that Apple is trying to get government authorities to investigate Samsung. This most recent incident and the investigation Apple got opened into Samsung in Korea show that the Cupertino company is doing everything in its power to get governments to do a large portion of the work against Samsung that they might have to do themselves otherwise.

Samsung Fires Back

Samsung, of course, is not taking this action laying down. The company filed a public interest statement yesterday, stating that it made a FRAND offer and that its 2.4 percent royalty demand is fair. While this may not seem like much, University of Iowa College of Law Professor Herbert J. Hovenkamp wrote in a paper earlier this month that “Permitting the owner of a FRAND-encumbered patent to have an injunction against someone willing to pay FRAND royalties is tantamount to making the patent holder the dictator of the royalties.”

Do you think that either Samsung or Apple are in the right here? Are they both just companies that, like so many these days, seem to have gone crazy for patents?

Kristofer Wouk
Kristofer Wouk is a tech writer, gadget reviewer, blogger, and whatever it's called when someone makes videos. In his free time, he likes to make music, read and write short fiction.
  • Bonsly16

    Seriously…enough with this patent crap already…

  • Marvin Nakajima

    I was under the impression that Apple never paid anything on those mentioned FRAND patents. Why should there be any investigation of Samsung if those payments have never been made? Get an arbitrator to work out the cross-licensing between Apple and Samsung and just end all this already.

    • Kassim

      You’re right but, this isn’t the main investigation of monies owed for royalties – this looks to be separate from the main one that you mention about Apple not paying royalties for the patents in question.

      From what I can tell of this particular investigation, Samsung is being accused of suing first and asking for royalties later. If this is actually true, then they are in the wrong on that particular point as it would be unfair to sue someone before ever giving them a chance to ‘sort things out’ in any type of lawsuit between anyone or any entity.

      In my view, this is just a technicality that Apple are complaining about, all in the hope that if Sammy are found guilty, they can then move to have their claims of unpaid royalties thrown out because of it.

      So, unless Samsung are able to provide evidence that they did indeed put an offer to Apple for the royalties due prior to opening this litigation against them, then they could be in a spot of bother trying to get a positive verdict for their own case.
      Whatever the outcome, I should think Apple will still have to pay the royalties for said patents if they continue to violate/use them…

  • Wolfgang

    Patents are not used because of the content of the patents, it’s just do save and divide the markets. Apple is an “American” company, saving lot of employes in a difficult market situation. So Apple uses everything of the american possipilities to make his market area save. Possibly the american coverment force them also to do so ?

  • Jinn

    p, li { white-space: pre-wrap; }

    How stupid and ludicrous can stupid and ludicrous get?

    If Apple had a shred of public interest in it’s jeans, it would not have sued over rectangular shapes or bounce back user interface.

    Why, it would have made mountain lion open source since that would be FRAND and grand!

    It’s nothing more than good old school bullying…just because they can.

    Sad day for free markets and Adam Smith will definitely turn in his grave tonight…