Korea Fair Trade Commission clears Samsung’s use of standard-essential patents against Apple

“I have seen several Korean news reports, of which I obtained machine translations (Google Translate), on an announcement today by the Korea Fair Trade Commission, South Korea’s antitrust authority, that Apple’s complaint against Samsung over its pursuit of injunctive relief over FRAND-pledged standard-essential patents (SEPs) was rejected,” Florian Müller writes for FOSS Patents. “The KFTC found Samsung’s conduct to be above board.”

“The KFTC had been investigating the matter since the summer of 2012 further to a complaint lodged by Apple in April 2012. The regulatory agency has now determined that Samsung is ‘not liable’ for a violation of Korean antitrust law, called the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade law,” Müller writes. “This wholesale acquittal contrasts with the state of FRAND antitrust matters in other jurisdictions… I do, however, attribute the outcome of the Korean antitrust case in no small part to the fact that regulators in the West failed to make much sharper decisions. The KFTC ruling appears to be far more SEP holder-friendly than anything the DoJ, FTC or European Commission ever indicated in this context, but unlike in August, when I wondered whether South Korea was on the verge of becoming a ‘FRAND rogue state,’ all I can say now is that basically the Korean competition regulators have taken the worst parts of certain Western rulings, positions and almost-accepted settlement proposals on SEP injunction issues, have taken those worst parts to a new level, and added at least one absurdity of their own to the mix.”

“Korean media appear to be well aware of the fact that this decision is different from the conclusions reached elsewhere in the world on these issues, and at least one Korean law professor (who is also licensed as a U.S. attorney-at-law and patent attorney) said that while Samsung is entitled to royalties on its SEPs, seeking sales bans over them is ‘problematic,'” Müller writes. “In the long run I believe the KFTC’s conclusions won’t benefit Korean companies and consumers either, even if this may be viewed as a win for Samsung in the short term.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Samsungorea strikes again. (Try some Pepto!)

Oxymoron of the Year, so far: “Korea Fair Trade Commission.”

They don’t call South Korea the Republic of Samsung for nothing.

The way South Korean’s have surrendered their country, losing it under the thumb of a corporate chaebol should be a chilling warning to other, still autonomous, countries around the world.


  1. The USA’s answer to this should be…”Ok, South Korea, you don’t respect international IP rights because you allow a criminal organization operating with no respect for any laws, domestic or international (Samsung) , deal with those missiles from North Korea that landed in the East Sea on your own. Good luck and have a nice day.”

    1. I agree but of course other factors apply. They always say if you are in debt its best to be in debt on a massive scale because it gives you leverage and in politics test is equally so. If the Us deserts South Korea the repercussions would be massive of course probable invasion of the South by the north the emasculation of US influence in Asia, terror in Japan at the possible consequences the empowerment of Chinese influence in Asia and the World generally, the possible collapse of world stock markets, Banks, industrial confidence you name it who knows how many dominos my fall. Yep the South Koreans know they can play the ego political game from an apparent position of weakness because those it is tormenting can’t afford to shoot it down as their head is inevitably in the path of the trajectory.

  2. Surprise… Apple has been fighting with 2.5 nations since long time ago. The United States of America, South Korea and Google the advertising Empire (btw, what company will have a dept called Institute of Culture).

    Anyway. Things suck. Good luck Apple.

  3. The irony in most of these comments is that the Koreans did exactly what most of you wanted the US to do a few months ago–allow the enforcement of SEP patents by injunctive relief (a sales ban) when the plaintiff already had an adequate legal remedy through a suit for damages. Remember when the courts denied bans against Samsung and you screamed foul? Or when the President blocked an FTC import ban against Apple because he chose to follow US judicial precedents rather than the administrative policy of the American and Korean trade agencies?

    1. You have this completely backward.

      Apple has asked for an import band, the FTC has directed an import ban, and the U.S. Customs Office has failed to enforce an import ban on certain Samsung products that violate design, systems and methods patents that ARE NOT SEPs!

      Samsung initial got an import ban on Apple products that implemented technologies that ARE covered in SEPs for which Samsung was trying to force Apple to pay over 12 times what they were charging others AND demanding that Apple cross license its NON SEPs. Since Samsung has not been agreeing to contractually required FRAND rules, the U.S. President vetoed that import ban. The U.S. President’s veto had very little (if anything) to do with the various court cases.

      With this ruling, Samsung can go to the courts in Korea and sue Apple and then get an import ban all the while demanding that Apple pay extortion fees and cross license non SEPs in clear violation of FRAND agreements.

      I certainly hope Apple accelerates its process of ending buying *anything* from Samsung.

  4. The problem with imposing sales bans on devices that infringe on SEPs is that the true remedy is money. The infringing company basically failed to reach an agreement to use the SEPs or didn’t try to reach an agreement, under which it would have been obligated to pay for each device sold. A sales ban really isn’t appropriate because the court can award money damages, which should pay all the unpaid licensing fees plus court costs and attorneys fees, and perhaps additional damages.

  5. As I have said many times before. This would not be an issue if at the time a standard is set and accepted, a price would be set for anyone who wants to use that standard would also be set, then everyone knows going in what it will cost them to use the IP in that standard. Also then a stander could be excepted or rejected based on full disclosure of the financial impact of using that standard.

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