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Department of Justice ends investigation into Samsung's potential patent abuse

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The US Justice Department announced today that it will close its investigation into Samsung's use of patents to attack rivals like Apple. This decision comes after Samsung filed a patent infringement complaint against Apple at the US International Trade Commission and won an order in June 2013 to ban the sale of some iPhone and iPad models in the US. The ban was vetoed by President Obama last August, and now the Justice Department is stating that it sees no reason for the investigation to continue.

The Department of Justice has been investigating Samsung's use — and potential misuse — of "standards-essential patents" (SEPs) for years now. Companies have to license these kinds of patents to rivals under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms, but the Department of Justice became concerned when Samsung appeared to be using the threat of import bans to raise licensing rates. Doing so would undermine the principles of FRAND, and potentially compromise competition in the open market in the process.

"No further action is required at this time"

But even if the Department of Justice has chosen to step back, that doesn't mean Samsung is off the hook: the DOJ will be monitoring ongoing patent issues with the company. This also doesn't mean the battles between Samsung and Apple will die down any time soon. Fortunately for Samsung, not all news regarding its patents is about Apple — the company recently signed a cross-licensing deal with Google which covers existing intellectual property as well as patents filed over the next ten years.