Samsung, Apple call a legal truce

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Samsung, Apple call a legal truce

Samsung Electronics and Apple yesterday agreed to drop years of patent lawsuits against each other in all countries except the United States.

The two have been engaged in about 30 suits in Australia, Japan, Korea, the United States, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and Italy.

The move came after Apple and Samsung withdrew their appeals of last year’s final International Trade Commission ruling in June, and Apple submitted a document to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit saying it will drop a cross-appeal in its first California case against Samsung.

“Samsung Electronics and Apple both agreed to withdraw all litigations conducted in countries except the United States,” Samsung said in a statement.

“However, the consent is not related to patent licensing agreements between the two companies. The lawsuit in the U.S. court will continue.”

Samsung’s appeal in the first case, and the court ruling in the second litigation are left. Although Apple dropped its cross-appeal, the court ruling orders Samsung to pay $929 million in damages to Apple.

Their first litigation dates to April 2011, when Apple accused Samsung of copying the iPhone and iPad in a federal court in Oakland, California. Samsung replied by countersuing Apple, alleging the Cupertino, California-based company infringed on its software patents.

In other regions, neither company has benefited.

Samsung, which won patent battles in some European courts, was accused of abusing its dominant position in violation of the European Union’s antitrust rules.

Industry observers said patent management companies that attack IT companies to instigate patent litigation are the only ones that profit.

In addition, intensifying global competition has made it more difficult for the two IT giants to concentrate on patent battles with each other. In China, both Samsung and Apple have lost ground to Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi in the largest mobile communications market.

Samsung was No. 2 and Apple was the fifth-largest smartphone brand in China in the second quarter.

Rapidly growing competitors such as Xiaomi, Huawei and Lenovo, which acquired Motorola’s smartphone division, are grabbing market share.

Thus, market analysts predicted that Apple and Samsung are determined to invest in the development of new products to maintain their growth instead of pouring huge amounts of money and time into litigations with few tangible benefits.

“Both companies are aware of the crisis and that they might get outstripped by Chinese manufacturers such as Xiaomi, Lenovo and Huawei unless they reverse the market trend with Samsung’s flagship Galaxy Note 4 and Apple’s iPhone 6 in the third quarter,” said an IT industry insider.

“As Apple was overtaken by Samsung in the North American market in the second quarter and dropped to be the No. 2 smartphone maker, it will focus on regaining market share with the iPhone 6.”

Samsung plans to launch the Galaxy Note 4 on Sept. 3, while Apple will release its iPhone 6 six days later.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]






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