European Union antitrust regulators dealt Samsung the latest blow in its on-going patent war against Apple, announcing Tuesday the launch of an investigation into whether the South Korean tech giant is illegally attempting to hinder competition in the European market.
The European Commission will specifically look into whether Samsung violated a commitment it made in 1998 to license any standard essential patents for its phones on "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms," the Associated Press reported. Standard essential patents are patents manufacturers must follow to meet compliance or industry standards.
The Brussels-based commissions agency said it “has opened a formal investigation to assess whether Samsung Electronics has abusively, and in contravention of a commitment it gave to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, used certain of its standard essential patent rights to distort competition in European mobile device markets,” according to the report.
Samsung declined to comment on the investigation.
The company, however, is in the midst of grappling with another set-back this week after a German court ruled in favor of Apple’s appeal Tuesday and banned sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 8.9 in the European country.
The two mobile giants have been raging a legal battle for nearly a year now, after Apple originally accused Samsung in April of basing its Galaxy tablets and smartphones on iPad and iPhone patents. Samsung’s products, Apple said, were merely “slavish” copies of its own.
Apple and Google have sought bans on each other’s products in a range of countries including Australia, The Netherlands, and Japan. Last month, Apple tried to institute a ban on Samsung’s Galaxy devices in the U.S. market, but a district judge denied the request and ruled that Samsung could continue selling its products in the U.S., at least until the two tech companies face off in court again this July.