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 EU Worries About Misuse of IP Rights as Apple

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hurricanemaxi
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PostSubject: EU Worries About Misuse of IP Rights as Apple   Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:47 pm

The European Commission is concerned that other firms could mimic Apple and Samsung's patent war and lead to the unfair use of intellectual property rights against rivals

Much of Apple and Samsung's 2011 has been spent duking it out over patents. Apple initially went after Samsung earlier this year and accused it of copying Apple's products when creating its Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets. Now, the European Commission is concerned that other firms could mimic Apple and Samsung's patent war and lead to the unfair use of intellectual property rights against rivals.

Throughout the year, Apple and Samsung have gone back and forth with patent issues. Apple claimed that Samsung created its Galaxy line such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 by ripping off Apple's design. Apple succeeded in killing Samsung's Australian tablet sales, banned the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany, and sought to ban Samsung's phones and Android tablets in Britain. But Samsung did some retaliating of its own by filing a 3G lawsuit against Apple in France, looking to ban iPhone 5 sales (back before it was revealed that the anticipated iPhone 5 was really the iPhone 4S), and modifying its hardware and software to prevent further lawsuits.

Earlier this month, the European Commission started looking into FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) violations associated with the Apple/Samsung patent war. Now, the EU's latest concern has to do with the potential misuse of patents in other areas of the IT sector.

"We requested information from both Apple and Samsung," said Joaquin Almunia, EU Competition Commissioner. "We have not yet received the answers. We need to look at this because IP rights can be used as a distortion of competition but we will need to look at the answers.

"In particular, in the IT sector, it is obvious it is not the only case. Apple and Samsung is only one case where IP rights can be used as an instrument to restrict competition. Standardization and IP rights are two instruments that in this new IT sector can be used as a tool to abuse."
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