The EU will set out its case against Samsung Electronics “very soon” following an anti-trust probe of the smartphone and mobile tablet market, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said on Thursday.
“We will adopt a statement of objections very soon,” Almunia said, meaning a document detailing the EU competition watchdog’s possible objections.
“I don’t know if it is at the end of this year or the beginning of next year,” he said, adding that “we are on the last steps of our internal procedures.”
The commission opened a probe in January on whether the South Korean tech giant was abusing its market position by seeking bans on sales of products made by its competitors in several European countries, alleging they were illegally using its patents.
Samsung said this week it would drop a legal request to ban Apple Inc’s products in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, but would maintain lawsuits for alleged patent infringement.
Commenting on Samsung’s decision to withdraw the requests, Almunia said: “We are very happy with this because one of the most important objections that we have when dealing with holders of standard essential patents is their possible abuses using their ownership [of patents].”
However, Apple said it was appealing a judge’s refusal to bar Samsung smartphones from the US market after a jury found Samsung used some Apple technology without permission.
Apple’s lawyers notified US District Court Judge Lucy Koh on Thursday that the company would try to overturn her order with the appeal to the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
Separately, Almunia said the European Commission is close to a decision in its investigation of US giant Microsoft Corp and its failure to provide clients with a choice of Web browser, as it had promised to do.
“We are close to our decision. It could be one of the first anti-trust decisions in 2013,” Almunia said on Thursday.
“Microsoft recognizes that they were not implementing properly the binding commitments” it made last year and this year when it introduced its Windows 7 system, Almunia said.
Microsoft apologized for what it said was a “technical error” on Windows 7 as the EU launched a probe in July into why 28 million users were unable to choose between the company’s default Internet Explorer and other browsers.