Apple and Samsung CEOs in settlement talks today
Few expect swift resolution of the long-running patent wars, as Microsoft scores win against Motorola
Published: 21 May, 2012
Apple CEO Tim Cook may have made some encouraging noises recently about the chances of settling the firm's myriad patent lawsuits, but few expect a result from his talks with his Samsung counterpart, Choi Gee Sung, which start to today.
The negotiations were ordered by US District Judge Lucy Koh, who presides over one of the main battlefields between the two rivals, in San Jose, California. The two-day mediation session will try settle patent infringement claims, mainly concerning the Galaxy family versus the iPhone/iPad, without a trial. She wants to avoid the trial, scheduled for July, which she remarked would constitute "cruel and unusual punishment" for a jury because of its broad scope.
Although few expect a resolution this week, the foundations could be laid for a compromise. Since the San Jose case was filed in April 2011, Apple and Samsung have filed more than 30 similar lawsuits against one another in 10 countries, citing patent violations and design copying, and seeking damages and product injunctions.
Apple re-released its usual statement ahead of the talks, saying Samsung's "blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas", while Samsung did not comment. Another case, at the US International Trade Commission, is due to start on May 31. This is Apple's complaint against Samsung, while the countersuit will start to be heard on June 4. December talks aimed at averting these hearings were unsuccessful.
In another major patent fight, Microsoft has won the latest victory against Motorola Mobility, and an ITC decision will force the future Google subsidiary to amend the software on some of its handsets in order to bring them into the US. The ruling concerns patents in Microsoft's ActiveSync technology, though the judge said that the other six patents at issue in the case were not violated. The judgement still has to be approved by president Barack Obama, who can reverse it on public policy grounds.
"We hope that now Motorola will be willing to join the vast majority of Android device makers selling phones in the US by taking a license to our patents," said Microsoft's deputy general counsel, David Howard, in a statement to Bloomberg. An exclusion order would force Motorola to withdraw, or find a workaround for, the Droid 2, Droid X, i1, Cliq XT, Devour, Backflip, Charm and Clip models, according to a filing with the ITC.
Motorola Mobility said it was disappointed and would explore options including an appeal. "Motorola Mobility will not experience any impact in the near term," the firm said in a statement. Most analysts expect the firm to come to a licensing deal rather than invest in a workaround.
Fellow Android phonemaker, HTC, has however gone for the workaround route and changed the software on its latest US models, the AT&T One X and Sprint EVO 4G LTE, to avoid infringing on Apple's patent # 5,946,647. This patent covers the detection of certain data such as email addresses and presenting options for dealing with it.