Samsung eyes settlement in EU antitrust inquiry -- report

If the company can strike a deal with regulators, it won't be subject to fines. Fighting the regulators and losing could see Samsung get hit with up to $17.3 billion in fines.

Don Reisinger
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.
Don Reisinger
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Samsung's Galaxy S4 (left) and its predecessor, the Galaxy S3.
Samsung's Galaxy S4 (left) and its predecessor, the Galaxy S3. Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung is inclined to wave the white flag in its issues with European Union antitrust regulators rather than take the chance of fighting it out, according to a new report.

Samsung and the European Union's European Commission, which regulates corporate competition, are in preliminary talks to settle an investigation into the company's use of essential mobile patents, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing people who claim to have knowledge of those talks.

The European Commission has been investigating Samsung over its use of standard-essential patents in its lawsuits against Apple across the EU. Samsung holds essential patents on the 3G UMTS standard. In order to obtain the patents, the company was forced to agree that it would license them on fair and reasonable terms to any and all companies that requested their use. By seeking injunctions against Apple products by citing those patents, the EU is concerned Samsung might not be holding up its end of the bargain.

In December, the Commission said that in its preliminary view, Samsung engaged in a "potential misuse" of essential patents, adding that its practices might have been "anticompetitive."

For its part, Samsung has publicly said that it's innocent. However, Reuters' sources say that the company "has been involved in settlement discussions for several months now" and would really like to put this mess behind it.

Whether Samsung will actually be able to settle, however, remains to be seen. According to Reuters' sources, the discussions are still preliminary. However, if a settlement is reached, Samsung would likely not face any fines. If the company decided to battle it out, it could get hit with up to $17.3 billion in fines.