Apple and Samsung Have Finally Settled Their 7-Year Patent War

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Apple and Samsung have settled their seven-year-long patent dispute over smartphone designs.

According to court documents filed today with the U.S. Northern District of California, the two tech giants said that they have agreed to settle on the remaining claims and counter-claims in the long-running legal battle. The exact terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, however.

The dispute kicked off in 2011 when Apple levied a lawsuit at Samsung for violating several of its design patents.

The Apple design patents in question concerned features that basically comprise what is now basic smartphone functionality: That includes tap to zoom and the app grid (common features on any modern handset).


In 2012, Samsung was actually found guilty of infringing on Apple’s intellectual property. But the two firms have been battling over the exact damages that Samsung owes for the last six years.

While Samsung contended that it should only have to pay damages for the design elements that it copied, Apple continually pushed for Samsung to pay an amount based on the total value of an iPhone.

Most recently, a court in May sided with Apple and ordered Samsung to pay $539 million. The South Korean juggernaut, of course, wasn’t happy about those terms. On June 11, Samsung filed another appeal demanding a retrial — but that appeal has apparently been dropped.

After seven long years, it now seems like the battle is finally over. And curiously, it’s not readily clear what prompted both sides to come to an agreement after two-thirds of a decade in court.

Of course, Bloomberg noted that the litigation over the years must have cost both companies “hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees and tested their reputations as innovators.”

Paul Berghoff, a patent lawyer who followed the case over the years, pointed out that “they were both tired and happy to stop paying the outside lawyers” — and added that “we may never know who blinked first, who made the call.”

In related patent trials, Apple reached similar settlements with Google — which developed Android — and HTC, a Taiwan-based smartphone maker.

Samsung declined to comment on the matter to multiple media outlets. Apple, for its part, declined to give the terms of the settlements. But it did point back to an official statement from May.

“We believe deeply in the value of design, and our teams work tirelessly to create innovative products that delight our customers,” the statement read. “This case has always been about more than money. Apple ignited the smartphone revolution with iPhone and it is a fact that Samsung blatantly copied our design.”

The statement concluded by saying that “it is important that we continue to protect the hard work and innovation of so many people at Apple.”

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