Apple And Samsung Declare Patent Truce Outside The US

Apple and Samsung have agreed a partial truce in their seemingly never-ending worldwide patent dispute with both parties pledging to drop all patent litigation outside the United States – however this where potentially the most valuable gains and damages are to be made.

The truce between Apple and Samsung was reportedly instigated by Jay Y. Lee, the heir apparent of the Samsung empire, who spoketo Apple CEO Tim Cook last month.

“Samsung and Apple have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States,” Samsung told TechWeekEurope. “This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in U.S. Courts.”

Patent Truce

The view from the analyst community is that both Apple and Samsung needed the truce, in order to focus on emerging smartphone rivals, such as China-based Xiaomi and Huawei, as well as dealing with an increasingly saturated smartphone market.

“It appears that Samsung and Apple, the market leaders, made a strategic alliance as China’s Xiaomi is emerging as a formidable rival,” Cho Chang-hoon, a business professor at Sogang University in Seoul was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Last week Samsung revealed an alarming drop in profits, despite its ongoing success in the Android and indeed the smartphone market. Part of the decline was blamed on increased competition from Chinese rivals.

The legal battle between Samsung and Apple began as far back as 2011. Some say it all stems from former Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, who is known to have vowed a “death-bed vendetta” against the Android devices, seeing them as having unfairly copied Apple’s concepts.

Protracted Battle

Apple first hit Samsung with a patent infringement lawsuit in April 2011, when it alleged that Samsung “slavishly” copied certain elements of the Apple iPhone. Samsung almost immediately hit back with a lawsuit of its own, and expanded the legal battle to Germany and South Korea. Apple then also expanded its legal fight against Samsung, and now the fight has spread to Australia, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands, to name but a few.

In August 2012, a federal jury in San Jose, California, awarded Apple $1.05 billion (£661m) in damages. The jury ruled that Samsung’s infringement on Apple products was “wilful”, but the judge in the case later ruled that while Samsung had violated seven of Apple’s design and utility patents, the violation was not willful. The judge also refused to ban the sale of Samsung products.

In March 2013, the judge also determined that the jurors had miscalculated, when they came up with the figure of $1.05 billion (£661m) to be paid to Apple, and that a new trial would need to be held to determine the damages. She had ruled that Samsung would have to pay Apple $930m (£558m) in fines, but Samsung is to appeal that decision.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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