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      Samsung: No European patent suits for 5 years

      AMSTERDAM (AP) - Samsung Electronics Co. has offered not to launch any patent lawsuits over key mobile telephone technology in Europe for the coming five years, in hopes of avoiding a fine from the European Commission.

      The Commission reported Thursday the South Korean company's settlement offer and called for interested parties - such as rivals Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. - to respond.

      The Commission's top regulator Joaquin Almunia believes Samsung tried to use its patent portfolio as a tool to stifle competition, seeking injunctions to keep Apple products that violated Samsung patents off the market.

      Almunia said Thursday enforcing patents is a legitimate business practice. But once a technology becomes an industry standard, its owner must offer others a chance to license it on reasonable terms - something Samsung failed to do.

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