Says it is ‘protecting consumer choice’

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KOREAN PHONE MAKER Samsung announced today that it will drop its patents lawsuits against Apple in Europe.

The surprise move sees Samsung ending its patents battles with Apple in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

In a statement sent to The Verge, a Samsung spokesperson said, “Samsung remains committed to licensing our technologies on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, and we strongly believe it is better when companies compete fairly in the marketplace, rather than in court.

“In this spirit, Samsung has decided to withdraw our injunction requests against Apple on the basis of our standard essential patents pending in European courts, in the interest of protecting consumer choice.”

It’s still unclear why Samsung has decided to drop its lawsuits against Apple, but it likely has something to do with a European Commission (EC) investigation into Samsung’s licensing of standards essential patents.

The EC said earlier this year that it will investigate whether Samsung has broken EU antitrust rules by refusing to licence wireless patents essential to the 3G standards.

It said in a statement, “The European Commission has opened a formal investigation to assess whether Samsung Electronics has abusively, and in contravention of a commitment it gave to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), used certain of its standard essential patent rights to distort competition in European mobile device markets, in breach of EU antitrust rules.”

Apple has claimed that it didn’t receive a patents licensing offer from Samsung until after the company sued the Iphone maker.

Whether Samsung’s decision was due to a ruling by the EC or to avoid being investigated has not been revealed.

Samsung’s decision by no means puts an end to its ongoing patents battles with Apple, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Your move, Apple.