Trade watchdog bites Samsung -

Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission is looking at allegations that Samsung paid students to attack rival HTC’s smartphones online.

If the watchdog rules against the South Korean tech giant, Samsung could face a fine of up to $835,000.

According to the Taiwanese press, Samsung allegedly hired students to write online articles attacking HTC and recommending Samsung handsets.

Samsung has put its paw up and confessed to the online attack in the style of a British Rail apology.

It posted a note on its Facebook page apologising for “any inconvenience” and saying it “has halted all internet marketing such as posting articles on web sites”. There was no mention of there being any leaves on the line, or a badger eating a junction box at Crewe, but otherwise it was an apology which had all the sincerity of a Berlusconi election promise.

Samsung has been caught doing this sort of thing before. In January, it was fined $10,389 for an advertisement that featured “misleading” information about the Samsung Galaxy Y Duos GT-S6012.

That time the company was stating in online and catalogue advertisements that the phone had an automatic focus and flash functions when it didn’t.

Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology was fined for fixing the prices of optical disk drives.

It is not clear why Samsung feels the need to be so aggressive.  It has a 30.3 percent chunk of the global smartphone market.

HTC has 4.6 percent and while it had rave reviews for its HTC One, the Taiwanese company has struggled over the past year.  Samsung’s antics would appear to be kicking HTC when it is down and not actually getting much benefit.