“The European Commission just announced that it has ‘opened a formal investigation 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,'” Florian Mueller reports for FOSS Patents. “The launch of a full-blown investigation after a few months of preliminary investigations is an important step. This means European competition enforcers have received information, in response to questionnaires (sent to Apple, which may have informally complained, and Samsung) that warrant a more formal effort.”

Mueller reports, “So far, Samsung’s attempts to enforce a minimum of 13 different allegedly 3G-essential patents against Apple haven’t been successful. In Germany, Samsung has already lost its first two lawsuits over such patents. Previously, a Dutch court dismissed a Samsung motion for an injunction because it held Samsung to have failed to honor a FRAND licensing commitment. Bids for preliminary injunctions against the iPhone 4S failed in France and Italy.”

“But the European Commission can’t wait until Samsung finally wins a ruling based on such a patent and enforces it, potentially causing irreparable harm,” Mueller reports. “Even though Samsung is at this stage the only company to be investigated over this issue, other suspected abusers could face similar inquiries anytime. And everyone else who may intend to seek or enforce injunctions based on FRAND-pledged standards-essential patents in Europe will now have to proceed with extra caution. In particular, Motorola Mobility…”

Read more in the full article here.