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Apple and Samsung Agree To Drop Cases Outside the US

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the why-can't-we-be-friends? dept.

The Courts 46

mrspoonsi writes Apple and Samsung have agreed to withdraw all legal cases against each other outside the United States. The two rivals have sued each other over a range of patent disputes in nine countries outside the US, including the UK, South Korea, Japan and Germany. A joint statement said the agreement "does not involve any licensing arrangements", and they would continue to pursue existing cases in US courts. The two firms are the biggest players in the smartphone and tablet PC market. But they have been involved in a bitter legal battle, spread across various countries, which has escalated in recent years.

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Risks? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47621651)

So, what is the reason for this? Is the risk that other courts will find the patents invalid and thereby making neither of them the winner too high?

Re:Risks? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47622259)

You should remember that while the US market is big, both the European and the Asian markets are larger.
This makes the US market a relatively "safe" ground to test the waters. Sure, it sucks if you are locked out from that market but it doesn't cripple you as much as being locked out from the other markets would do.

Downsizing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47621685)

Now they can announce the downsizing of their legal departments. Watch their stock prices climb...

Collusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47621763)

Would that not offer obvious evidence of collusion?

Re:Collusion (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 months ago | (#47621999)

Would that not offer obvious evidence of collusion?

Only in the limited sense that two parties agreeing to an armistice are 'colluding'. Perhaps if they agreed to a delightful cross-licensing and then started suing every non-Samsuing android OEM into the ground; but if there isn't any licensing going on it's likely just a recognition that neither side has really gained much in the litigationdrome. Apple has won some; but not nearly the damages they wanted (and they've been more or less entirely unsuccessful in actually stopping Samsung from churning out and shipping large quantities of hardware), Samsung has at least blunted most of Apple's advances, possibly won some of its own suits; but kept all very large damage claims and attempts to ban devices that are commercially relevant away.

Without a clear legal edge for either side, they could keep slinging shit at each other; but it becomes an effort in throwing billable hours down the drain while other Android OEMs continue to put pressure on prices and Samsung's attempts to pull a 'fireOS'-style independence bid from being Google's pet board stuffer continue to mostly suck.

If Apple had actually managed to knock out a meaningful collection of Samsung devices or firmware features, or even just score some settlements of the size they wanted, they'd have much less incentive to stop; and if Samsung had managed to score a win or wins that conclusively got Apple off their back they wouldn't need an agreement; but neither party has. Apple likely has (between the number of patents and the number of venues for fighting about it) unlimited lawsuit fodder; but they haven't been able to make any of it hit has hard as they would like; while Samsung has been able to whittle down Apple's demands quite substantially; but has no chance in hell of getting a 'the court has proven that Apple needs to stop suing you now' decision.

Re:Collusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47623469)

probably a trolling comment.. But another question that I need to search, which company initiated talks to halt lawsuits outside the US? To me I would guess Apple since it is losing out in various markets to Android and a few others, not to mention China, Russian, India, all tho India isn't restricting smartphone makers, but other makers make cheaper phones for countries like India. Something else if I remember right the EU was involved, I would guess they threatened companies like Samsung, Apple, ect with severe changes to the patent system, I would also be guessing they would be reforming how litigation could be brought forth, and how the process for patent suits is judged.

The EU thing I'm not completely sure about when it comes to details, but I believe /. did run a few stories/articles over the EU reforming their patent system. /. has also gone on about Apple losing out in markets they lead in.

So? (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 3 months ago | (#47621777)

Airlines do that all the time

The only winners were the lawyers (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 3 months ago | (#47621779)

And legal battles across international borders means international lawyers, which means more and more money. I'm surprised they didn't also keep up the fight in Korea, though - assuming they had any fights going on there at all.

Re:The only winners were the lawyers (3, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 3 months ago | (#47622785)

And legal battles across international borders means international lawyers, which means more and more money. I'm surprised they didn't also keep up the fight in Korea, though - assuming they had any fights going on there at all.

That's because Samsung lost. Yes, they lost on their home turf.

In fact, Samsung internationally hasn't been on the winning side - they've instead been stirring up shitstorms of controversy. Because what patents Samsung does assert are ones under FRAND, and it's lead to many a jurisdiction doing inquiries about asserting FRAND patents in this fashion, including the EU and Korea.

It's more a truce than anything - especially since both Apple and Samsung realize that they're really just wasting a lot of time. Samsung's the world's #1 manufacturer of smartphones by a long shot, and they're seeing a huge slowdown, and Apple's partnership with TSMC means Samsung's semiconductor division is hurting as well since Apple can multi-source the most important parts.

I'm sure the US side would be dropped fairly quickly if not for the fact that they're coming to an end as well - let it complete and then announce a truce as well.

Company relationships are complex. Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, Google - you can bet that despite being competitors in areas, they have many, many cooperative agreements and even sales between them. Apple vs. Google is just a fanboy fight - Google and Apple compete far less and cooperate far more than you think. Even Samsung and Apple cooperate far more.

The truth is very messy, and not only is it never black and white, it's far more grey than you would believe. Anytime you see a real disagreement in the media it's almost always just a PR fight - behind the scenes they're still hugging and kissing each other.

Re:The only winners were the lawyers (2)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 3 months ago | (#47622997)

European courts have invalidated Apple's slide-to-unlock patent because Neonode had a precedent. No wonder Apple is not interested in continuing to fight it in EU courts.

Re:The only winners were the lawyers (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 3 months ago | (#47625045)

In fact, Samsung internationally hasn't been on the winning side - they've instead been stirring up shitstorms of controversy. Because what patents Samsung does assert are ones under FRAND, and it's lead to many a jurisdiction doing inquiries about asserting FRAND patents in this fashion, including the EU and Korea.

That's actually the bigger problem with everything that's been going on that supersedes Apple and Samsung. The total market value of a FRAND patent must exceed the total market value of a non-FRAND patent. The FRAND patent may have lower royalties per device, but it makes up in volume what it lacks in price. If the total value of a FRAND patent is less than a non-FRAND patent, then you've just destroyed all incentive for anyone to submit their patents under FRAND. Why in the world would anyone decrease the value of their patent by submitting it under FRAND?

Unfortunately this is precisely what was happening with Samsung losing because their patents were FRAND. The courts were getting lost in arguments over minutia and losing sight of this bigger picture. FRAND patents were being devalued relative to regular patents. The difference in pricing Apple was asking for (a few cents per device for FRAND, vs $15-$20 per device for regular patents) would've required FRAND be applicable to hundreds of times more devices than a regular patent before they'd be worth it. In other words, almost never worth it - a single licensing deal with a manufacturer with more than about 0.3% market share would've guaranteed keeping the patent non-FRAND was more profitable. It was setting us on course for a tech world where everything was proprietary and non-interoperable. That they've decided to drop all litigation before more damage was done is great news.

Win For Apple (1)

organgtool (966989) | about 3 months ago | (#47621791)

This agreement definitely favors Apple since the U.S. cases still proceed where Apple's has the advantage of strong support for their software patents as well as home court advantage. I can't help but wonder why Samsung would agree to this, especially the part about dropping the case in their home country.

Re:Win For Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47621861)

Hardly. The US is known for only backing its own. Meanwhile Apple's market share has been destroyed as people wizen up. The market has kicked Apple, not the lawyers.

Apple make bugger all, they buy off the shelf components made by others, like Samsung. They eventually bought some brain power to spin-off their own ARM based CPU, and will have to fab up for that and each incarnation. Samsung have already told Apple to fuck off for their parts.

Sony may also join in the lawsuit game now that it has come out Apple ripped off their entire iphone design and UI from Sony's blueprints.

Re:Win For Apple (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47622009)

Meanwhile Apple's market share has been destroyed...

While their sales of virtually every product they sell continue to climb.

Moron.

Re:Win For Apple (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 3 months ago | (#47622105)

The iPhone 5S being the most sold phone all over the world every month since its release...

But you have to admit that apple is losing market share to Samsung, although the trend is slowing down now.

Re:Win For Apple (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 3 months ago | (#47622681)

Unfortunately Samsung is losing market share to Chinese cheaphone manufacturers faster than they're taking it from Apple.

Re:Win For Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47626761)

where are you getting those sales figures from?

Re:Win For Apple (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 3 months ago | (#47628113)

I can't find the article anymore, but it's pretty much everywhere (not in the details I remember though): http://www.designntrend.com/ar... [designntrend.com]

Re:Win For Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47629035)

The iPhone 5S being the most sold phone all over the world every month since its release...

But you have to admit that apple is losing market share to Samsung, although the trend is slowing down now.

Well, while Apple keeps selling more phones, Samsung's sales fell through the floor. If one of the companies has to worry. it isn't Apple.

Re:Win For Apple (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 3 months ago | (#47622675)

Actually, Samsung has cited the loss of major component customers as one of the reasons for their poor financial performance in the last quarter; that's generally taken to be referring to Apple's decision to shift its CPU orders elsewhere. They need Apple's business more than Apple needs them.

Re:Win For Apple (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 3 months ago | (#47622783)

With regards to this "Sony's blueprints" nonsense I assume you're referring to the following:

http://www.dailytech.com/Samsu... [dailytech.com]

Which is to say:

1) A Sony designer talked about the idea of devices that were free of buttons and ornamentation and had nice rounded corners. They didn't show any devices; they just talked about design ideas.
2) Someone in Apple read that article
3) Apple had one of their favoured freelance designers mock up what a device like that could be like, and put a Sony logo on it as a joke
4) Apple went on to produce a device superficially similar to the design their freelancer had created, which drew upon ideas described by somebody in an interview

Re:Win For Apple (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 3 months ago | (#47623035)

They asked someone to do a device design using Sony's design language and then ended up producing it. Apple is well known for ripping off other people design ideas. From the Swiss Railways clock design to Dieter Rams.

Then they get a design patent for a black rectangle with rounded corners.

Re:Win For Apple (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 3 months ago | (#47624803)

Actually, they ended up producing a version that's more like their original reference design, which predates the Sony article and the Sony-based design study.

Re:Win For Apple (4, Insightful)

andydread (758754) | about 3 months ago | (#47622083)

THat advantage with software patents has now diminished due to the the recent supreme court ruling. Things like slide to unlock will probably be found invalid and samsung is currently challenging that as a result of the recent supreme court ruling.

Re:Win For Apple (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 3 months ago | (#47622341)

I can't help but wonder why Samsung would agree to this

Take a look at Samsung's recent financial results. Especially mobile. They're tanking. They probably want to save money.

Re:Win For Apple (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 3 months ago | (#47623061)

That is most likely the reason yes.

Smartwatch patents (3, Interesting)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | about 3 months ago | (#47621799)

Apple is rumoured to be introducing its iWatch later this year and Samsung has already released several models of smart watch over the last few months or so. I'm sure both parties will now be armed to the teeth with patents applicable to the other's watches, and the potential patent disputes between them likely more even sided than we've seen with phones and tablets. It makes very good sense for both parties to come to an agreement now so they can each concentrate on the coming shitstorm of fitness patents that will rear their head from all directions before long.

Re:Smartwatch patents (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47622207)

lol Samsung innovation, you're cute.

Re:Smartwatch patents (1)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | about 3 months ago | (#47622245)

As we've seen, innovation is not a prerequisite for a patent.

Why only US? (0)

emanuele_fanton (2529260) | about 3 months ago | (#47621873)

Because only in US there are a patent system that allow such litigation.

mod this shits up! .. notext (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47621935)


 

Re:Why only US? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 3 months ago | (#47624257)

So all of those cases in other countries that this article is about are just figments of our collective imaginations?

Explain something to me (1)

Daniel Hoffmann (2902427) | about 3 months ago | (#47622053)

Why only Apple and Samsung are fighting each other over patents? Why do they not come after LG, Motorola, Nokia, Microsoft, Sony etc?

Re:Explain something to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47622173)

Because LG, Motorola, and their Android friends don't actually have any money :) And Microsoft buried their money in the Surface hole.

Re:Explain something to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47622181)

Apple went after Samsung because Samsung was their biggest competitor by far. Samsung responded with countersuit, as is SOP in that kind of litigation.

Re:Explain something to me (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about 3 months ago | (#47622575)

Marketshares. All the manufacturers not named Apple or Samsung combined don't add up to the market share of Apple or Samsung. The big guys could go after the little guys for something most likely, it's just not worth the time/money (if it hasn't already been licensed in some manner).

Re:Explain something to me (1)

Daniel Hoffmann (2902427) | about 3 months ago | (#47623787)

But aren't they weakening their patent portfolio by not suing the other companies? By not suing something that LG does that apple has patent when Samsung eventually does the same thing won't they be able to say: "but LG has been doing this without your permission for a long time, why haven't you sued them?"

Re:Explain something to me (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 2 months ago | (#47669223)

That's true for trademarks, but not patents.

Re:Explain something to me (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 3 months ago | (#47623075)

Microsoft and Apple have had a wide ranging cross-licensing agreement since like forever. Most of the others have no profits to sue for.

Re:Explain something to me (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 3 months ago | (#47624279)

Because Apple already sued Nokia, HTC, and Motorola? Microsoft has gone after a couple of them as well.

Re:Explain something to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47626411)

They sued, sure, but when they went for a company who actually, you know, invent stuff [fosspatents.com] , they lost. Must have hurt to lose to Elop, of all people.

Re:Explain something to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47629587)

They sued, sure, but when they went for a company who actually, you know, invent stuff [fosspatents.com] , they lost. Must have hurt to lose to Elop, of all people.

Of course the company "that actually invents stuff" sued (nope, Apple didn't "go for" them) over FRAND patents to get access to Apple's "worthless" patents - and in the end all they got was their FRAND licensing money Apple wanted to pay from the start.

Re:Explain something to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47629549)

Because Apple already sued Nokia, HTC, and Motorola?

Actually, both Motorola and Nokia sued Apple first.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47622741)

Why would Samsung drop the cases outside of the U.S? Those are the only places they can win, because the establishment sure as hell won't let it come to pass that some foreign company come into the U.S and sue the shit out of their precious Apple.

If Apple and Samsung got smart... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47623109)

They would stop suing each other, team up with Google and sue the shit out of Microsoft for patent abuse.

bunch of greedy niggers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47625353)

anyone else wish these companies would just both die?

fuck these stupid greedy nigs

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