Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- European Union regulators started an antitrust probe into Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc.’s use of smartphone patents on their “own initiative” without waiting for a competitor to formally raise the issue.
Per Hellstroem, the head of the European Commission’s antitrust unit for consumer electronics, said in London today that the EU’s “preliminary investigation” is trying to determine the underlying facts about Apple’s and Samsung’s use of patents.
“There’s no formal complaint,” Hellstroem said at a conference organized by IBC Legal. “When we see that there are issues that may” potentially “involve competition issues we have the power to send requests for information to various parties.”
Samsung and Apple were questioned by the commission about “the enforcement of standards-essential patents in the mobile- telephony sector,” regulators said earlier this month. Apple said in a filing in a California court case last month that Samsung faced an EU antitrust investigation into its “egregious” misuse of patents.
Apple and Samsung have filed at least 30 lawsuits against each other in 10 countries, according to Samsung. While Cupertino, California-based Apple has also sued Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and HTC Corp. over phones using the same operating system, the company’s now-deceased founder Steve Jobs took particular interest in Samsung devices because of what he saw as blatant similarities to the sleek look of its iPhone and iPad tablet computer.
--Editor: Anthony Aarons, Peter Chapman
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