European regulators have opened an antitrust probe against Samsung Electronics to determine whether the South Korean group has distorted competition in European mobile device markets.
The European Commission said it will investigate whether the group went too far last year when it sought injunctions against competitors in various EU national courts, alleging infringements of Samsung's patent rights.
The probe will seek to determine whether Samsung "has failed to honour its irrevocable commitment given in 1998 to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to license any standard essential patents relating to European mobile telephony standards on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms."
The European Union's competition watchdog said it "will examine whether such behaviour amounts to an abuse of a dominant position prohibited" by EU laws.
The ETSI requires holders of patents that are essential for the implementation of a standard to provide licenses on so-called FRAND terms.
"In order to guarantee undistorted competition and to reap the positive economic effects of standardisation it is important that FRAND commitments are fully honoured by the concerned undertakings," the commission said.
The opening of a probe means the case will be examined "as a matter of priority," but it does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation, it said.
Samsung and national competition authorities have been informed of the investigation.
Meanwhile, a German court decided to ban the sale of two models of Samsung's Galaxy tablet, ruling that they were too similar to Apple's iPad.
The Galaxy 10. and 8.9 models were barred from the Germany market by a court in Duesseldorf.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 N, available in Germany since November, was not affected by the ruling after Samsung adjusted it to satisfy German objections. A court decision on this model is due February 9.
Apple accuses Samsung of copying the design of its popular devices while the South Korean company counters that the US computing giant violated its patents.