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Samsung, Apple may find breakthrough in patent fight

Publication Date : 22-05-2012


Samsung Electronics’ vice chairman Choi Gee-sung and mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun will meet Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook on May 21-22 to take part in an alternative effort to resolve the dispute over patent issues.

“The time and location for the meeting have not been released although it will take place in San Francisco,” said a Samsung official.

Last month, US Judge Lucy Koh, a federal judge in the Northern District of California presiding over two Samsung-Apple lawsuits, asked the two firms to participate in the dispute resolution, giving them a 90-day deadline.

The suggestion was made ahead of an infringement case filed by both parties against each other at the US International Trade Commission next month, followed by another court case in San Jose later in July.

The two groups agreed to be a part of a magistrate judge settlement with Judge Joseph Spero as mediator, which led Samsung vice chairman Choi and Shin to fly to San Francisco on their private airplane around 5pm Sunday.

While Choi kept mum about how he expected the meeting to turn out, Shin said the country’s IT behemoth is considering many measures including reaching a cross-license between the two firms.

The mobile chief, however, disagreed on being labelled a “copycat,” further elaborating that Samsung has won various design awards since the launch of its Galaxy series.

This is the first meeting being arranged since the patent dispute was first raised by Apple against Samsung’s Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab last April.

Refusing to back down, Samsung took counteraction and filed an infringement suit against Apple’s iPhone and iPad less than a week after.

The two are now involved in more than 30 patent battles in courts in nine different countries - Germany, Australia, the UK, the US, Japan, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Korea - surrounding telecommunications technology, designs and user interfaces for their wireless gadgets.

Although the two companies have reportedly spent 440 billion won (US$376.45 million) on the patent fight, the damage received by both firms remains low, according to industry sources.

Apple won a few orders to put a ban on a few of Samsung’s smartphones and tablet PCs in countries like Germany and the Netherlands, but the Korean IT giant rolled out gadgets which adopted slightly different technologies and designs.

Samsung’s claims against Apple were also rejected at the Mannheim court in Germany earlier this year.

The only thing that Samsung has gained through the patent fights is its growing position in the global smartphone industry, which was once dominated by US-based Apple, a company that also led the smartphone boom in Korea, according to industry sources.

Multiple industry sources said the chief executives of both companies are likely to share views on preventing the patent dispute from expanding further, but remained skeptical of them reaching a compromise which satisfies both firms.

“Samsung will need to give in largely for Apple to sign the agreement, considering that the US-based firm is on a winning streak in the courts there,” said a source.

Another source pointed to a previous Apple-Nokia patent suit case, which came to a conclusion last year, stating that the CEO meeting between the two companies did not produce any noticeable outcomes.

After Nokia filed more than 40 patent cases, Apple agreed to provide royalty payments to Nokia last June, which was years after the suits were first filed.


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