Samsung: No European Patent Lawsuits for 5 Years

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- Samsung Electronics Co. has offered not to launch any patent lawsuits over key mobile telephone technology in Europe for the coming five years, in hopes of avoiding a fine from the European Commission.

The Commission reported Thursday the South Korean company's settlement offer and called for interested parties -- such as rivals Apple and Microsoft Corp. -- to respond.

The Commission's top regulator, Joaquin Almunia, believes Samsung tried to use its patent portfolio as a tool to stifle competition, seeking injunctions to keep Apple products that violated Samsung patents off the market.

Almunia said Thursday that enforcing patents is a legitimate business practice. But once a technology becomes an industry standard, its owner must offer others a chance to license it on reasonable terms -- something Samsung failed to do.

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