After a thorough investigation on the matter, the Justice Department announced on Friday that it has closed its investigation into Samsung's use of its standards essential patents to get injunctions against Apple products. Previous court rulings have left owners of SEP patents from using an exclusion order as a remedy for an infringement
of such a patent. Because these patents are essential to the manufacture of a product, licensing of these are supposed to be handled using FRAND terms (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory). But by threatening to get a court ordered injunction, a SEP holder could squeeze out higher licensing terms for the patent.
The U.S. Trade Representative overturned an injunction against Apple, which the Justice Department says leaves them with no other action to take in the matter. While the Antitrust Division has closed the investigation, it will continue to "monitor future developments
"As the Department of Justice and the Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) explained in their joint ‘Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments,” issued on Jan. 8, 2013, a number of competitive issues arise when holders of SEPs seek to block their competitors from selling products that implement the SEPs. While there are certain circumstances where an exclusion order as a remedy for infringement of such patents could be appropriate, in many cases there is a risk that the patent holder could use the threat of an exclusion order to obtain licensing terms that are more onerous than would be justified by the value of the technology itself, effectively exploiting the market power obtained through the standards-setting process.
The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) reviewed the exclusion order issued by the ITC against Apple at Samsung’s request and overturned it, determining that it was not consistent with the public interest. As a result of the USTR’s action, the Antitrust Division has determined that no further action is required at this time. The Antitrust Division is therefore closing its investigation into Samsung’s conduct, but will continue to monitor further developments in this area."-Justice Department