BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics is in early talks with the EU antitrust regulator to settle charges that it abused its market position by barring Apple from using an essential mobile phone patent, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

"Samsung has been involved in settlement discussions for several months now. Samsung wants to settle," said one of the sources, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The talks come after the European Commission told Samsung in December that it was acting unfairly by seeking injunctions against Apple over use of the essential patents.

The sources said it was still too early to say if the discussions would result in a settlement. That would mean no finding of wrongdoing for Samsung and no fine, which could otherwise reach as much as $17.3 billion if the Korean firm is found to be in breach of EU laws.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Rex Merrifield)

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