EU inspectors raid offices of Philips, Samsung

Europe's largest consumer electronics retailer, Media-Saturn, was also part of the competition watchdogs' raid. Exactly what the EU inspectors were looking for is unknown.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

Samsung, Philips, and Europe's largest electronics retailer Media-Saturn were raided by European Union competition officials earlier this week, the companies have confirmed.

All three companies told Reuters that their offices were hit by Europe's competition watchdogs on Tuesday. The companies didn't say what officials were looking for during the unannounced inspections, but in a statement on Thursday, the European Commission said that it's investigating several consumer electronics companies on suspicious of collusion to drive prices higher.

For its part, the competition watchdogs said that no formal charges have been filed and it's possible no charges will come out of the investigation. All three companies have also confirmed that they're cooperating with the investigators.

Samsung went under the EU's regulatory microscope in January 2012 after its many lawsuits and injunction requests against Apple products claimed the iPhone maker violated its standard-essential patents. By December of last year, the European Union's Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, said that Samsung's lawsuits were in violation of anticompetition regulations and represented "an abuse of dominant market position." Samsung has since backed down in the face of the EU's scrutiny.

It's not clear where the latest investigation might go next. Raiding company offices is never a good thing for firms, but they don't always lead to charges. The European Commission will likely chime in on its findings (or lack thereof) over the next few months.

Correction, 8:22 a.m. PT: This story initially misstated the date of the unannounced inspections. EU officials inspected the companies' offices on Tuesday, December 3.