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BLOG: Why Samsung may fear Obama's ITC Apple ban

Jonny Evans | Aug. 6, 2013
There could be far more trouble in store for the Korean company as competition regulators look at how it does business.

This is beyond open and honest competition.  This is about undermining the principles of a free market by directly harming the business of a competitor — it reminds me very much of the nature of the Apple versus Microsoft wars of yesteryear.

I'm not a lawyer, just an individual with an opinion, but having read the statement from the Obama administration in which the ITC ban was overturned, I sense that Samsung may soon find itself being looked at very, very closely by regulators eager to ensure it doesn't use its market dominance, market or manufacturing power, or any dirty tricks in order to crush competing firms.

Has Samsung gone too far?
This is the key part of the Obama administration response:

"The Policy Statement expresses substantial concerns, which I strongly share, about the potential harms that can result from owners of standards-essential patents ("SEPS") who have made a voluntary commitment to offer to license SEPs on terms that are fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory ("FRAND"), gaining undue leverage and engaging in "patent hold-up."

Essentially it means SEP patents must be made available in the spirit in which it was agreed they should be made available.

Some may argue that Apple's Steve Jobs started this bitter rivalry when heswore to "destroy Android". I'd observe that at the time Jobs said this, he knew his time was limited, and now he is gone. Yet the actions in the current conflict are committed by the living. Is it truly appropriate to justify actions in the present by repeating the words of a dead man? I don't believe so.

I feel a little like a canary in a coal mine as I write this. I recognize the customary cohorts of Samsung fans will reject these arguments even while the most rabid Apple fans will attempt to whip the discussion up. I'm not really aiming to stimulate either group in this, simply proposing a question I think will soon be discussed by US trade authorities.

That question is:

"Is Samsung's way of doing business anti-competitive under US law?"


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