Apple, Samsung Agree to Patent Settlement Talks

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After a contentious, year-long battle, are Samsung and Apple ready to kiss and make up? Not exactly, but a judge has ordered the two sides into talks in an effort to settle their patent fight.

After a contentious, year-long battle, are Samsung and Apple ready to kiss and make up? Not exactly, but a judge has ordered the two sides into talks in an effort to settle their patent fight.

“The parties have indicated that they are willing to participate in a Magistrate Judge Settlement Conference (MJSC),” Judge Lucy Koh wrote in a Tuesday court filing.

Who will be present at these talks? According to Judge Koh, the CEOs and general counsels of both companies will appear and participate in the MJSC, which would include Apple’s Tim Cook and Samsung’s Gee-Sung Choi. In a separate filing, Apple and Samsung said they were both “willing to participate” in talks and that their respective CEOs and general counsels are the “appropriate decision-makers” and will appear.

There is a 90-day deadline for an agreement, and both sides will file a separate statement on the matter by April 30.

In a Tuesday post, patent blogger Florian Mueller said the “settlement effort is only semi-voluntary.” Judge Koh “ordered the parties to comment on their availability for an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) effort. In this situation, they both had to be cooperative: if only one of them had made the CEO available, the other one would have appeared to be less than constructive.”

As Mueller pointed out, Google and Oracle took a similar route last fall, and they just went to trial, so a deal is far from a slam dunk. “The courts can obligate parties to meet and talk, but they can’t force them to settle,” Mueller wrote.

Without a settlement, a trial is scheduled to start in late July, while evidentiary hearings before the International Trade Commission are scheduled for June.

The case dates back to April 2011 when Apple sued Samsung for copying the look and feel of its iPhone and iPad in its flagship Galaxy S line of devices. Samsung countersued and their fight has since expanded to nine countries.

By Chloe Albanesius, PCMag


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