The ongoing legal war between smartphone makers Apple and Samsung is a step closer to conclusion this week as both parties have decided to drop litigation beyond the United States. It would appear the hassle of fighting multiple battles through different legal systems is simply not worth it.
Both sides are facing hefty legal fees, with potential damages much lower than can be awarded in the US, so the logical move was to streamline the process.
Experts are also pointing out that competition from Chinese firm Xiaomi is impacting the market share of both tech giants, so they may have agreed to drop litigation as a mutually beneficial way to secure their positions. Samsung for example were significantly hit in their second quarter financial results, with earnings at their lowest since the same point in 2012.
Cho Chang-hoon, a business professor at Sogang University in Seoul, told Reuters: "It appears that Samsung and Apple, the market leaders, made a strategic alliance as China's Xiaomi is emerging as a formidable rival." The war between Apple and Samsung stems from the 2011 filing by Apple, claiming Samsung had essentially ripped off the iPhone. In turn Samsung filed a counter-suit in Germany, South Korea and Japan, and there has since been litigation in France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Britain, and Australia.
Overall Saumsung have come out worse, as Apple were awarded $119 million out of the $2.2 billion lawsuit in May, after they had already been ordered to pay $1 billion in 2012. It's not the end of the story however as Samsung are appealing the rulings, much to the Judge's chagrin.
"If all you wanted is to raise awareness that you have I.P. [intellectual property] on these devices, messages delivered," said Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court of San Jose. "In many respects, mission accomplished. It's time for peace. If you could have your CEOs have one last conversation, I'd appreciate it."
Statements made by both corporations this week announce that they've agreed to drop everything outside the United States - but despite stepping away, there are no specific terms, meaning they could easily pick up where they left off in the future.
"This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in US courts."
In some corporate irony, despite the ongoing war the two companies still work together, with Samsung providing processor chips and display components for Apple's devices.
"I Will Destroy Android"
Apple also filed patent lawsuits against other Android manufacturers in 2009 and 2011 at the behest of Steve Jobs, who famously declared: "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."
Current Apple CEO Tim Cook has not taken the issue as personally as Jobs and has at least stated that he'd prefer to settle all lawsuits and bring everything to a conclusion.
"Calmer heads will prevail, and both sides will realize they achieved something," said Pierre R. Yanney, a patent attorney, referring to Apples vs Samsung. "Apple got a victory of sorts and money; Samsung has to pay a lot less than they might have. At some point, both sides will realize that the certainty of a settlement is better than the uncertainty of future legal proceedings."