Ready to settle? Apple and Samsung CEOs to meet May 21-22 for settlement talks

Apple VS SamsungA meeting between the CEOs of two of the world’s biggest tech companies to resolve a legal dispute which currently comprises some 50 lawsuits across 10 countries has been set for May 21 and 22.

According to a post by Florian Mueller on patent specialist blog Foss Patents, the meeting between Apple’s Tim Cook and Samsung’s Choi Gee-sung will take place in a San Francisco courthouse and be overseen by Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero.

Mueller says Spero was chosen to be present at the talks because he is not personally involved in the legal dispute between the two companies.

Spero has requested that both parties provide him with a settlement statement by May 9 that should include “a candid evaluation” of the parties’ likelihood of prevailing on the claims and defenses.

“I think this is wishful thinking because the parties won’t really say that any of their claims are legally weak,” Mueller wrote in his post.

The two CEOs, together with their chief lawyers, will try to find a solution to an ongoing patent-related legal dispute that began in April 2011 when Apple accused the South Korean electronics company of “slavishly” copying elements of the iPhone and iPad in the design of its Galaxy line of mobile handsets and tablets.

Samsung subsequently shot back with legal action of its own, claiming the Cupertino company’s iPhone infringes 10 of its patents. Since then, lawsuits between the two companies have been springing up across the world – around 50 in 10 countries to date.

While neither company will want to give too much ground, Apple boss Tim Cook recently appeared to indicate that he was keen to make progress when in a conference call with analysts he said he “hates” litigation and that he’d “highly prefer to settle than to battle” when it comes to lawsuits concerning his company.

His approach appears to be in stark contrast with that of his predecessor, the late Steve Jobs, who told his biographer he was prepared to “go thermonuclear” with rivals he considered had done wrong.

With only two days of talks scheduled, it’s hard to believe any kind of full settlement will be reached when Tim Cook and Choi Gee-sung meet, but the encounter could turn out to be an important stepping stone towards resolving a costly, time-consuming and potentially damaging dispute which both companies can well do without.