The commission is concerned that Samsung is using patents essential to wireless communications standards in legal cases against competitors, burberry 2012 and in turn stifling competition in the EU.
In the past year, Samsung and Apple have escalated their legal battle worldwide in their bid to take the lead in mobile computing in Europe through smartphone and tablet sales. Samsung has focused its lawsuits on technology patents rather than those covering design, as Apple has done.
Last April, Apple sued Samsung in California, claiming their devices had "slavishly" copied Apple's. Then, in the Netherlands in October, Samsung lost a case saying that Apple should pay Samsung royalties for 3G transmission technology used in its iPhones and iPads.
The formal investigation comes as a German court said earlier Tuesday that Samsung cannot distribute its Galaxy Tab 10.1 and smaller Galaxy Tab 8.9 tablet computers in Germany, as they would imitate the iPad.
Samsung said in a statement it is disappointed with the ruling in Germany and "will continue to take all appropriate measures" including legal action to protect its products. Regarding the commission's investigation, a Samsung spokesman said the company "has not received any formal notice and is unable to discuss the matter at this time."
Apple declined to comment.Cheap burberry - designer bags, shoes, accessories, clothing outlet 2012.
The EU opened this latest investigation on its own initiative, without receiving complaints from other companies, a commission spokesman said. In November, the commission requested information on patents from Apple and Samsung.
"This is linked to injunctions which have been filed by Samsung against a number of competitors, concerning standards essential patents," a spokesman for EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia told reporters. "We're looking at the injunctions made on a broad basis…And whether these injunctions themselves are in breach of competition law."
The case hinges on standards-essential patents, which cover an area that is crucial to compliance with an industry standard, such as 3G or Wi-Fi.
The EU is studying Samsung's use of wireless patents. Above, EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia last week in Brussels.
Unlike regular patents, they must be licensed on a fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory basis—known as Frand. This means infringement can't lead to injunctions on use, or extraordinarily high royalty payments.
In 1998, Samsung, along with many other patent holders, promised the European Telecommunications Standards Institute that it would license any standard essential patents on a Frand basis.Burberry sunglasses outlet, buy cheap burberry sunglasses 2012 online.
"Standardization isn't sexy, but the issue here is a lot of these patents are proprietary and haven't found their way to formal standards," said Stephen Russell, a standardization expert. "This opens the door to these companies suing one another."