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Apple vs Samsung: could they settle?

Mat Bettinson
Apple vs Samsung: could they settle?

Apple and Samsung are set to begin talks to settle at least one of the major patent infringement suits that have erupted between the smartphone rivals worldwide.

A Californian court filing revealed that the bitter rivals will sit down in a "settlement conference" with the aim of reaching a settlement that could head off some or even all of the legal battles between the companies.

In an indication of how seriously the talks are being taken, the court filing also revealed that Apple CEO Tim Cook himself and Samsung chief Choi Gee-sung will be taking part in the negotiations.

Lawyers have been funded to the tune of countless bottles of campaign in the ongoing patent disputes now active in more than ten countries worldwide. The situation is made more complex by the fact that Apple is one of Samsung's largest customers for electronic components, even collaborating on the design of Apple's custom processor.

There seems little doubt that the all out war has done at least some damage to brand Apple but the campaign was the result of the late Steve Jobs' declaration of war on Android.

"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong," Jobs said of Android according to Water Isaacson's biography. Later Jobs told Google chief Eric Schmidt "I don't want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won't want it."

The bottom line is that with Jobs at the top, there seemed little prospect in any sort of peace with rival vendors that used Google's Android OS. That said, settlements are often mandated by authorities which are reluctant to enforce any measure whereby an IP can be exclusively offered by one vendor, no matter how much the former Apple chief would wish.

The preferred option is to come to terms on how much it will cost to licence the IP in question. Doing so is in all IP holder's interest because it generates revenue and raises the cost of implementing a design in competing products.

The question is whether post-Jobs Apple is genuinely interested in sitting down to come to a mutually agreeable decision or if Jobs succeeded in indoctrinating his successor with his war of principal.

In such a case negotiations may fail entirely, just as they did between Google and Oracle in the Java/Android dispute. The trial of Google vs Oracle is now in the second day.

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Tags: Apple, Samsung, patent wars

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