Global smart phone giants Apple and Samsung called a truce in their ongoing patent war as they agreed to dismiss legal claims against each other in courts outside of the U.S. Announced on Tuesday, the pact terminates patent litigation between the companies in South Korea, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. In a joint statement, Apple and Samsung stipulated that the agreement “does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in U.S. courts.”
Tuesday’s agreement represents the latest twist in the protracted, three-year legal saga between Apple and Samsung, which, between them, reap the vast majority of smart phone profits worldwide while accounting for nearly half of global industry shipments. While Apple has played the role of the plaintiff in U.S. courts, the international lawsuits have been initiated primarily by Samsung, which has pursued injunctive relief against Apple for illegally appropriating Samsung technologies in the design of the iPhone. Earlier this year, Samsung agreed to observe a five-year moratorium on injunctions in Europe after the European Union issued a formal complaint against Samsung for its practice of seeking injunctions in cases where other companies were willing to license its patents.
Meanwhile, although Apple has won two verdicts against Samsung in the U.S., those victories have proven somewhat hollow. In August 2012, a San Jose, California jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1.05 billion in damages for infringing various iPhone patents, but that penalty was later reduced to $929 million after U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh ordered a retrial on a $450 million portion of that award that was found to have been improperly calculated. In a second trial that ended in May, Samsung was found liable for further violations of Apple patents. The resulting damage award of $119 million, however, fell drastically short of the $2.2 billion requested by Apple. Appeals of both verdicts remain pending, and sources indicate that Apple has yet to collect any of its awarded damages. Apple has also been frustrated in its attempts to win injunctive relief that would prohibit U.S. sales of Samsung devices that contain infringing technologies. In a sign that tensions between the companies may be easing even within the U.S., however, Apple confirmed last week that it would withdraw its appeal of a ruling from the first U.S. patent trial that denied a permanent injunction against the sale of various Samsung products. The companies also agreed earlier this year to settle a case with the U.S. International Trade Commission that had imposed an import ban on certain Samsung devices.