Samsung and Apple ‘agree truce on patent lawsuits outside US’

Out-Law News | 06 Aug 2014 | 5:08 pm | 2 min. read

South Korean mobile device manufacturer Samsung has agreed with US rival Apple to halt ongoing patent lawsuits outside of the US, according to reports in the international media including South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency .

Apple Insider posted online part of what it said was a joint statement from the companies, confirming their deal “does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in US courts”.

Apple Insider said: “As noted, licensing agreements concerning infringed and accused-infringed intellectual property are not included in the ceasefire. Without such deals in place, there is nothing standing in the way of either company lodging lawsuits in new venues, though the undisclosed deal may contain clauses that restrict such behaviour.”

According to Apple Insider, “by dissolving all international cases, Apple and Samsung will likely focus their efforts on two California court trials, both of which are now in the appeals phase”.

"This is excellent news for Apple and Samsung," said patent litigation expert Deborah Bould of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com. "A ceasefire is a pragmatic solution to expensive litigation where, outside the US, neither side had won a decisive victory against the other."

"Despite regular news of settlement negotiations, neither side seemed willing to agree a cross licence.  Apple and Samsung perhaps could not agree how to value each others' IP, or they may have disagreed about the scope of a cross licence, for example if either of them wanted to keep exclusivity for certain technologies," said Bould. "The ceasefire is encouraging for other companies in the TMT space too. Some of the most important and seemingly intractable cases in the patent wars have now been stopped, which may encourage others to rethink their options."

In 2012 Apple was awarded $1bn in damages from Samsung by a US district court jury in California after finding Samsung liable for infringing a number of Apple's mobile patents, although the damages awarded was subsequently reduced to $930 million.

Earlier this year, Samsung was ordered to pay Apple almost $120m after a US court found that the company infringed two of Apple's patents.

A jury in California unanimously agreed that technology Samsung had deployed in some versions of its Galaxy, Admire and Stratosphere devices infringed patent rights belonging to Apple. The patents cover a "system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data" and technology that allows device users to 'unlock' their handset by performing a "predefined gesture" on a touch-sensitive screen, according to the US Patent and Trade Mark Office.

However, the jury also said that Apple had infringed a Samsung patent when it deployed technology in versions of its iPhone and iPod devices. Samsung's patent covers "digital image and speech recording and reproducing apparatus". The company was awarded just over $158,000 in damages from Apple over the infringement.

The jury dismissed further patent infringement claims brought by both Apple and Samsung against each other.

Disputes elsewhere in the world involving Apple and Samsung include the UK. Earlier this year Samsung won a delay to a UK court appeal which will determine whether European patents it owns are valid and were infringed by Apple. The delay was granted after the Court of Appeal ruled that it would be wrong to rule on those issues until related legal proceedings before the European Patent Office had been resolved.