EU regulators to rule on Samsung, Motorola disputes in April

BRUSSELS Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:54pm EST

A passenger using his mobile phone walks past an advertisement promoting Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 3 at its exhibition hall at a railway station in Seoul November 25, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A passenger using his mobile phone walks past an advertisement promoting Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 3 at its exhibition hall at a railway station in Seoul November 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU regulators will rule on antitrust cases against Samsung Electronics and Motorola Mobility in April, the European Commission said on Monday as it seeks to end the so-called patent wars between smartphone makers.

The Commission - the EU's antitrust authority - has been investigating the firms and others for using aggressive legal action to prevent rivals from selling smartphones and tablet computers in Europe by claiming they copied their designs.

The patent wars between tech companies, also including Apple, Microsoft, Nokia and smaller rivals, underscore the fierce battle for market share in the lucrative mobile phone industry.

The world's top smartphone makers, Samsung and Apple, are suing each other in more than 10 countries.

Samsung, the target of a two-year EU investigation, has already indicated it is willing to compromise. Last October, the South Korean company said it would not take rivals to court over patent disputes over the next five years in a bid to avoid a multi-billion-euro fine from Brussels.

The company subsequently sweetened its offer after EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia demanded more. "The latest commitment proposals by Samsung are good and the Commission should be able to adopt a final decision in April," said Almunia's spokesman Antoine Colombani.

The case of Google Inc's Motorola, under investigation in a separate case since 2012 following complaints from Apple and Microsoft over its efforts to ban the sale of their products, will also be decided in April, said Colombani.

"This ongoing case is being handled under Article 7 of the Antitrust Regulation," he said.

In such cases, the Commission typically orders companies to halt their anti-competitive practices and may hand out a fine up to 10 percent of a firm's global annual turnover. This could mean as much as $440 million for Motorola.

Samsung and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(This version of the story removes Colombani comments on Motorola sanctions.)

(Editing by John O'Donnell and Pravin Char)

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