Taiwan's FTC investigating Samsung for defaming HTC on local online forums

Samsung has ordered its Taiwan operation to cease marketing involving online anonymous comments

Fabricated Internet posts praising Samsung at the expense of HTC products has landed the South Korean company in hot water with Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission.

Taiwan's FTC said on Tuesday it was investigating the matter, and could punish Samsung for up to NT$25 million (US$835,000) if it is found to be in violation of fair trade rules.

The investigation occurs after a local site, called TaiwanSamsungLeaks, accused the South Korean company of "evil marketing" for covertly criticizing rival products through anonymous Internet users. As evidence, the site published documents allegedly from Samsung's hired marketing firm cataloguing the different forum posts it made last year on local gadget sites.

The topics covered included a user complaining that his girlfriend's HTC One X phone was constantly crashing, and how Samsung's Galaxy Note phone was superior to HTC's Sensation XL handset.

Benchmark reviews were also posted, claiming that Samsung's Galaxy S3 outperformed the HTC One X in battery life and graphics. In addition, some of the comments tried to praise Samsung, and asked if the company's handsets had helped local users earn job promotions.

Samsung said it has as yet to receive a notice from Taiwan's FTC on the investigation. But the "unfortunate incident" did occur, the company admitted.

"Samsung Electronics Taiwan (SET) has ceased all marketing activities that involve the posting of anonymous comments," it said on Tuesday in a statement. The company adheres to "transparent and honest communications with consumers," and is working to prevent the problem from occurring again.

HTC, however, said in a statement it won't rule out "taking appropriate action" to protect the company and its consumers. Taiwan is HTC's home market.

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