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Samsung hopes to avoid $18 billion EU fine with offer to stop suing over controversial patents

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Samsung (STOCK)
Samsung (STOCK)

The European Union has called for comments on a proposal that Samsung has submitted in a bid to resolve an ongoing patent dispute. As the Associated Press reports, Samsung has offered to stop suing other companies over "standard-essential" patents (SEPs) for the next five years. The South Korea-based electronics company submitted a proposal to the EU in September, after antitrust regulators accused it of stifling innovation by seeking injunctions against Apple and other competitors based on SEPs.

"Enforcing patents through injunctions can be perfectly legitimate," Joaquín Almunia, the European Commission's vice president in charge of competition policy, said in a statement today. "However, when patents are standard-essential, abuses must be prevented so that standard-setting works properly and consumers do not have to suffer negative consequences from the so-called patent wars. If we reach a good solution in this case, it will bring clarity to the industry."

"If we reach a good solution in this case, it will bring clarity to the industry."

Today's announcement comes more than two months after US President Barack Obama vetoed an International Trade Commission import ban against the iPhone 4 and some iPads. Samsung won the ban in June based on SEPs, but the White House overrode it amid fears that the company was "gaining undue leverage" over its competitors.

The EU formally accused Samsung of antitrust violations in December of last year, threatening the company with a fine of up to $18.3 billion. The European Commission has given interested parties one month to submit comments or objections to Samsung's proposal. Once the comment period has ended, it may decide to make the agreement legally binding.