Can conviviality be catching? Apple and Samsung reportedly prepare to end lawsuits

Madeleine Swain
20 May, 2014
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This week it was revealed that Apple and Google have made a pact to dismiss all ongoing and pending patent lawsuits, with the intent of working together on patent reform. In our report on the topic, we noted that such conviviality was to be welcomed, but hardly likely to spread. After all, the latest Samsung versus Apple dispute has only just reached a verdict and both sides have been expected to launch their appeals any day now.

But this morning, lo and behold, we find ourselves eating our words. Maybe there’s something in the water. Maybe California is experiencing some sort of flower power flashback back to its halcyon days in the late 1960s, when San Francisco was the epicentre of the peace and love movement. And everyone just wanted to tune in, turn on and drop out. Or something like that…

Because a new report from Kim Yoo-chul in The Korea Times claims that Apple and Samsung could be close to reaching an agreement that would see them settle all their patent infringement lawsuits out of court. Apparently, the two tech giants have only been nutting out the details for a short time, with significant details on royalty payments still under discussion.

Interviewed by The Korean Times, Germany-based intellectual property pundit, Florian Mueller is confident that an agreement between the two companies is in the offing and could come sooner rather than later. “Things should come to an end during the [northern hemisphere] summer,” he said. “Apple doesn’t have an endgame strategy. Its agreement with Google shows that its management is looking for a face-saving exit strategy from Steve Jobs’ thermonuclear ambitions that were based on a totally unrealistic assessment of the strength of Apple’s patent portfolio.”

Again, like the Google agreement and unlike an earlier one with HTC, it is not expected that Apple and Samsung will engage in cross-licensing. “They could withdraw their mutual lawsuits around the globe and agree not to bring suits for a certain period of time. They wouldn’t necessarily have to agree on a comprehensive cross-licence,” said Mueller.

The most recent dispute between Samsung and Apple resulted in US$119.5 million being awarded to the Cupertino, California company, a far cry from the US$2.2 billion it had been seeking. Apple was also ordered to pay the Korean company a pretty paltry US$158,400 for infringing Samsung’s patents. Again, this was far less than the US$6.2 million Samsung had asked for.

As we noted yesterday, the only real winners in such cases are the lawyers. It looks as though the biggest tech companies in the world are finally coming to that realisation too.

There is one big unanswered question in all of this though – without Samsung and Apple clogging up her courtrooms for months on end, how on earth will Judge Lucy Koh fill her days…?


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