EU may challenge more firms over patent lawsuits-Almunia

BRUSSELS Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:30am EST

BRUSSELS Jan 30 (Reuters) - EU regulators are considering charging more firms with anti-competitive practices in using injunctions to prevent rivals using their patents rather than negotiating fair fees, a month after taking action against Samsung Electronics, the EU's antitrust chief said on Wednesday.

Firms resorting to court action instead of offering to license their patents on fair and reasonable terms are abusing their market position, Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told a news briefing.

The European Commission is currently investigating patent disputes involving Google, Microsoft, Apple , Huawei, wireless technology patent holder InterDigital and patent enforcement company MOSAID.

The European Commission stepped into the global patent dispute arena last month, becoming the first antitrust regulator to do so, accusing Samsung of abusing its dominant position by trying to thwart Apple from using a patent essential to mobile phone use.

"The decision we adopted in December was to launch a statement of objections to Samsung and maybe some others will follow," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told a news conference. A statement of objections is the Commission's term for a charge sheet of concerns, presented to a company for its response.

Almunia did not identify any firms on the Commission's radar screen.

Companies face fines up to 10 percent of their global turnover if found guilty of breaching EU competition rules.

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