The patent battles between Samsung and Apple have certainly drawn a lot of attention, and now they seem to have stirred the ire of the EU antitrust chief, Joaquin Almunia. According to Reuters, he spoke out for the first time today concerning the strife in the mobile phone industry, saying the European Commission requested details on the companies' patents earlier this month to determine if they're being used to compete by unfairly preventing others from using standard technology. "Standardization and IP rights are two instruments that, in this new IT sector, can be used as a tool to abuse," Almunia said. But the chief made it clear that Apple and Samsung present only one case where IP rights can restrict competition. While the Commission hasn't yet done anything more than request information, eliciting that sort of statement from its antitrust chief can't be a good thing.