Apple and Samsung Agree to End Patent Disputes Outside the US
Apple and Samsung have taken a major step forward after three years of legal tussles and agreed to end all patent lawsuits between themselves. These pertain to lawsuits filed outside the US. However, patent lawyers of the two largest smartphone manufacturers will continue to pursue existing patent lawsuits in US courts. The statement released by the South Korean company comes after years of bitter disputes over intellectual property rights filed in several countries/continents in Asia, Europe, and North America. Most of these lawsuits pertain to mobile blueprints and technology.
Apple and Samsung have been involved in high stake lawsuits since April 2011 when the iPhone maker accused Samsung and its Galaxy series as being a mere copy of the iPhone. Samsung’s patent lawyers responded with law suits charging Apple of stealing its mobile technology. News of the patent truce follows just days after software giant Microsoft filed a lawsuit against Samsung in the Manhattan federal court for infringement of its mobile patent licenses.
Several of the patent disputes between the two companies were the result of increasing smartphone sales. After Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, Samsung followed with a string of models at competitive prices.
While the companies have reached an agreement they have not struck a cross-licensing deal although some analysts believe they may bury the hatchet and sign one in the not too distant future. Patent lawsuits are likely to be withdrawn from several countries in Europe including the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Germany, and Japan, South Korea, and Australia. The agreement does not involve any monetary dealing although this is likely save both time and money on parallel cases that pertain to more or less the same issues.
It is too bad that Apple and other American companies have to deal with the largest corporate tax in the world. It is a shame the White House cannot understand that lower taxes means less money going overseas.
Earlier in June, both companies agreed to drop their appeals pending at the US international trade commission. For the past four years, some analysts believed that the differences between Apple and Samsung were a major deterrent to any agreement. Several out of court settlements have been recommended to the CEOs of both companies by a US judge. Apple’s Tim Cook and Samsung’s Shin Jong-Kyun along with other executives from both companies attended a full-day session with mediators which led to several follow up calls with the mediator.
Smart Moves by the Smartphone Makers
What is noteworthy is that patent cases in the US have fetched bigger rewards for Apple. The iPhone giant was awarded $119m recently in May by a California jury. In another case, Samsung was ordered to pay $930m in damages to Apple although an appeal against the ruling has been filed by patent attorneys of the South Korean company. Apple has also paid out $158,400 to Samsung for patent infringement in creating iPhones 4 and 5. While Apple has won several patent battles in the US, it dropped a cross-appeal in a California case against Samsung in July.
Legal Fights Only in US Now
While damages have be awarded and paid over the years for claims and sales bans on some products, some of the outcomes from patent lawsuits have not been so damaging. Samsung took the lead in smartphone manufacture with a global presence during the last three years.
Amidst patent lawsuits and dropping of cases, Apple has decided to shift its A8 chip production unit to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). According to WSJ, this could be a way of hurting Samsung who has been a sole supplier of Apple’s custom A-Series chips for a long time while the decision to shift to TSMC could hurt its SoC profits. Until now, Apple’s SoCs from A4 through A7 have been manufactured at Samsung.
The hearings saw hundreds of internal company documents produced by patent lawyers on both sides. Some emails highlighted Samsung’s urgency to get into the smartphone market. There were also several notes from Apple executives concerned about the impact of the South Korean company’s advertising on the iPhone.