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Samsung and Apple agree to drop patent lawsuits

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Samsung Electronics and Apple have agreed to scale down their international legal war and withdraw patent lawsuits outside the United States, a Samsung spokesman said on Wednesday.

"This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in US courts," South Korean tech giant Samsung said in a statement.

Global smartphone leaders Apple and Samsung had been at each other's throats in courts around the world for three years, accusing each other of infringing patents in their popular handsets and other mobile devices.

A Samsung spokesman said the rival firms had agreed to end patent disputes in nine countries, without elaborating on why they would continue to fight it out in the US.

The patent fights grew out of the surging sales for smartphones. After Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, popularising the use of phones with touch screens and internet access, Samsung followed suit with a wave of models with different styles and prices.

The rivalry sparked two protracted patent-infringement cases in federal court in San Jose, California. Apple scored victories in the two California suits, including a $US930 million verdict in 2012 and a $US120 million result earlier this year.


The hearings unveiled a trove of internal company documents on both sides, including emails showing Samsung's urgency to quickly get a smartphone on the market to match Apple's iPhone, and notes from Apple executives complaining about the effect of Samsung's advertising on the iPhone.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, Samsung mobile chief Shin Jong-Kyun and other executives from both companies attended a full-day session with a mediator in the first week of February, and representatives from both sides had several follow-up phone calls with the mediator, according to a report the companies filed that month. Other sessions in 2012 and 2011 had failed to generate a deal.

Complicating the legal spat has been that Apple and Samsung are close business partners, with Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung providing critical components like semiconductors and memory chips for Apple's mobile devices.

The world's top two smartphone makers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees on battles across four continents to dominate a market that was valued at $US338.3 billion last year, according to IDC. Samsung controlled about 31 per cent of the global market last year, compared with Apple's 15 per cent, the market researcher said.

In May, a US jury left the total damages Samsung must pay US-based Apple unchanged at $US119.6 million, after additional deliberations in a trial where the South Korean smartphone maker was found to have infringed three Apple patents.

The truce comes just days after Microsoft filed a complaint in the Manhattan federal court against Samsung for not honouring their agreement over mobile patent licences. Microsoft said Samsung was using Microsoft's purchase of Nokia asĀ an excuse to stop complying with their contract.

Reuters, Bloomberg