Wed, Feb 01, 2012 - Page 10 News List

EU probes Samsung as Germany blocks its tablets

AP, Brussels

Samsung took a hit in its battle against archrival Apple yesterday, when the EU announced it would investigate whether it is illegally trying to hinder competitors and Germany blocked sales of some of its tablets.

Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc are engaged in a strategic war over patents in many countries as they try to draw market share away from each other.

The EU’s antitrust watchdog thinks the South Korean company may be overstepping the bounds, however, and launched a formal investigation of whether Samsung is strategically using key patents on 3G wireless technology to hinder competitors — including Apple.

In Germany, an appeals court ruled in favor of Apple in a separate case, saying Samsung could not sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 nor the Galaxy Tab 8.9 in the country because they too closely resembled the iPad2, in violation of unfair competition laws.

“Samsung wrongly used the enormous reputation and prestige of the iPad,” Duesseldorf state court Presiding Judge Wilhelm Berneke wrote in his ruling.

However, the court said Samsung’s successor tablet, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 N, was not affected by the ruling, and Samsung said while the decision was disappointing, it was largely irrelevant.

“Today’s ruling is of little factual relevance due to the new model Galaxy Tab 10.1 N, and ... the decision therefore is of no indicative value with respect to other legal proceedings involving the Galaxy Tab 10.1 N,” Samsung said in an e-mail statement.

“Samsung will continue to take all appropriate measures, including legal action, to ensure continued consumer access to our innovative products,” the statement said.

In Brussels, the European Commission said it suspects Samsung of not giving other companies fair access to patents it holds on standardized 3G technology for mobile devices — despite committing to do so in 1998.

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