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Occurrence of the term “FRAND” in Google searches during the previous 12 months. In November 2011 (A) the EU Commission started investigations against Samsung due to possible infringement of FRAND conditions. In February 2012 (B) Google announced that the acquired Mororola patents will remain to be licensable under FRAND conditions.

In Part 1 of our series of two postings on political and business issues in the discussion on FRAND licensing in Europe, we sketched the EU Commission’s political approach towards maintaining free markets in times of standard-essential patents.

Now, in Part 2, we will have a closed look at what the various industry players in the ‘smartphone war’ say and do.

The ‘Smartphone War’: The significance of Mr Almunia’s agenda can be easily derived for the global patent conflict that initially started between Apple and Samsung and meanwhile, after months of infringement suits and injunctions, involves also essentially all other important Internet and mobile telco players such as Google, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia and HTC. In an earlier posting we considered this to be a sort of stress test for the patent system as it currently is.

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EU Commissioner of Competition Joaquín Almunia in November 2011

This is the first in a series of two postings – the second part will be published later today -, that relate to both the political and business attitude towards FRAND licensing in Europe. As there are two main players in that game, namely the EU Commission as the political market watch-dog and the Smartphone industry as patent holders and actors on these markets, we will first have a look at the political agenda of the EU Commission towards ensuring free market access in a world of standard-essential patents, as articulated in clear words only recently. In the light of the Commissions approach, the hint at the “Commission’s position as regulator-in-chief of the global technology industry”, as seen by the Financial Times back in 2007 , might never have been more true than today.

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