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Hanging up the gloves? Apple and Samsung agree to drop all non-US patent cases

What’s happening? Have Apple and Samsung finally decided to kiss and make up?

Well, not exactly, but the news that the two tech titans have agreed to drop all non-US lawsuits against each other appears to show that the pair have finally found a way to negotiate in a more productive manner, or indicates they’ve simply grown weary of action that could otherwise continue for many more years.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the companies said lawsuits would be dropped in Australia, Japan, South Korea, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, France, and Italy, adding: “This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in US courts.”

Both Apple and Samsung have been locked in bitter patent disputes around the world since 2011, with the Cupertino company accusing its rival of copying elements of the iPhone and iPad in the design of its own mobile devices. The Korean tech company also accused Apple of infringing key patents relating to technology used in its own phones and tablets.

Related: A timeline of the biggest fight in tech

With both companies intent on ruling the smartphone and tablet market – an ambition growing increasingly challenging as upcoming rivals launch attractive and competitively priced handsets into the market – each felt growing pressure to defend its own technology.

One of the goals of the patent disputes was to get products banned from sale. While this was achieved in a number of cases, such bans were often overturned on appeal, with one, which saw iPhones and and iPads taken off shelves in Germany in 2011, lasting just a few hours.

US litigation

However, while litigation has now been dropped in the vast majority of cases, Apple and Samsung will continue their patent-related battle in the most high-profile of the cases, taking place in US courts. Apple won big in its first trial back in 2012 when a jury awarded it $1 billion in damages. Samsung is appealing.

A subsequent trial in May, when Apple claimed $2.2 billion in damages from Samsung on other patent-related issues, ended with the jury awarding the iPhone maker a far smaller amount – $119 million. Samsung received an even smaller award of just $158,000.

Apple recently indicated it was looking for a way out of its various legal disputes when it reached an agreement with Google to drop all patent lawsuits relating to smartphone technology. The pair even went so far as to agree on a plan to work together in the area of patent reform.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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