Samsung (005930) could face a $15 billion fine in Europe alone for using “standard-essential” patents in its attempts to ban devices like the iPhone in its ongoing patent battle with Apple (AAPL). The Guardian reports that the European commission could impose a massive fine of up to 10% of Samsung’s global turnover following its investigation into Samsung’s use of standard-essential patents in complaints filed against Apple in Europe. Samsung’s revenue totaled $148.9 billion in 2011, so fines in Europe alone could reach $14.8 billion.
The commission’s investigation began in January and took an interesting turn late last week. Among other issues, it is troubled by Samsung’s use of patents that had previously been deemed “standard-essential.” This means the IP owner — Samsung, in this case — has made a formal commitment to license these technologies to all parties that wish to utilize them for a “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” fee. If fees cannot be agreed upon by the parties involved, The Guardian explains, a price must be set by a court.
Apple had offered to license the relevant patents in the past, the commission noted, but it was unable to strike an agreement with Samsung.
Samsung withdrew its motion asking to ban sales of the iPhone and iPad across Europe last week, just days before the European commission made its objections to Samsung’s use of standard-essential patents public.
“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,” Samsung said in a statement at the time. “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.”