Is the seemingly never-ending global patent war between rivals Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. finally coming to an end?
In a hopeful sign that they have finally realized the futility of years of patent litigation, the two companies have released a joint statement confirming they have agreed to a ceasefire outside the U.S.
“Apple and Samsung have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States,” the statement said. “This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in U.S. courts.”
The patent litigation between the companies stems from Apple’s assertion several years ago that Samsung essentially copied the iPhone as it tried to claw its way back into the smartphone market. For its part, Samsung has alleged that Apple infringed on some of its wireless transmission patents.
Under this agreement, the companies are dropping lawsuits in South Korea, Japan and Germany, among other locations.
While this detente seems to signal a winding down of legal hostilities, the companies do still have significant litigation pending in the U.S.
In the U.S., Apple has had the upper hand. The company won two patent cases, resulting in a $930 million decision in 2012 and a $120 million verdict in 2014.
However, both cases are still being appealed. And while they went in Apple’s favor, they didn’t have much effect on the overall smartphone market.
That said, while Samsung seemed to be getting all the buzz and market share for a couple of years, the South Korean company has stumbled lately. Samsung recently missed its earnings, and has lost its position as the leading smartphone seller in China. Analysts are asking whether Samsung can continue to maintain its edge against cheaper rivals.
Apple, by contrast, has found the wind at its back lately. Despite weak iPad sales, the company’s stock has been rising, thanks to strong iPhone sales. And fans and analysts are excited about a fall that promises two new iPhones and perhaps the mythical iWatch.