Samsung drops Apple 3G ban hunt in Europe for "consumer choice"

Samsung has tweaked its standard-essential patent lawsuits against Apple in Europe, describing the decision to adjust its litigation as evidence that it stands behind its beliefs that consumer choice trumps all. "We strongly believe it is better when companies compete fairly in the marketplace" Samsung said in a statement today, "rather than in court." The move means Samsung is no longer looking to have Apple products barred from sale over alleged infringement of certain wireless technologies deemed essential with its products in Europe. Update: Turns out, Samsung isn't dropping the cases entirely; read on for the full details.

The change of heart means an end to the ongoing lawsuits a change to the ongoing lawsuits in the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Italy, where Samsung had accused Apple of refusing to pay up for wireless technology. Previously, Samsung had claimed that Apple knowingly infringed, whereas Apple argued that it had used a different approach to reach the same 3G functionality.

"Samsung remains committed to licensing our technologies on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, and we strongly believe it is better when companies compete fairly in the marketplace, rather than in court. In this spirit, Samsung has decided to withdraw our injunction requests against Apple on the basis of our standard essential patents pending in European courts, in the interest of protecting consumer choice" Samsung

Samsung's willingness to reach for 3G-essential patents as a legal weapon has already landed it in hot water with regulators. The EC is currently investigating Samsung over potential antitrust behaviors, with similar investigations ongoing in the US and in Korea.

"The European Commission has opened a formal investigation" the EC said in January 2012, "to assess whether Samsung Electronics has abusively, and in contravention of a commitment it gave to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), used certain of its standard essential patent rights to distort competition in European mobile device markets, in breach of EU antitrust rules."

Whether Samsung's decision to drop amend the litigation is hinged on escaping allegations of patent misuse is unclear, though it would seem likely to be related. Apple is yet to comment.

Update: As FOSSPatents points out, Samsung's announcement today doesn't actually say it's dropping all lawsuits. Instead, it's only dropping its attempts to have Apple products banned: it is still chasing financial compensation.Update 2: Samsung has confirmed to SlashGear that its lawsuits over standards patents remain in place, and that the company has simply withdrawn its request for injunction, or product sales ban, against the Apple products.

[via FT]