Patent Dispute: Apple, Samsung CEOs Ordered to Kiss and Make Up

By Jonathan Charles | Apr 21, 2012 12:46 PM EDT

Apple and Samsung executives will be involved in settlement talks to end a patent dispute, according to a court filing. The dispute is over smartphone and tablets.

Apple had sued Samsung last year, claiming the Samsung Galaxy line of phones and tablets were "slavishly" copied from iPhone and iPad. Samsung denied the accusation and countersued Apple.

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The court filing means both companies have agreed to a settlement. U.S. Distirct Judge Lucy Koh has referred the companies to a San Francisco-based magistrate judge, who will lead the talks.

Both of the company's CEOs, Tim Cook and Choi Gee-sung, will be present at the talks, along with the companies' general counsels.

The legal dispute between the two companies involves more than 20 lawsuits across 10 countries. In a separate filing, Apple and Samsung said they were "willing to participate" in talks and the CEOS and general counsels will be the "appropriate decision-makers."

"The parties have indicated that they are willing to participate in a Magistrate Judge Settlement Conference," Judge Lucy Koh wrote in a Tuesday court filing.

There is a 90-day deadline for an agreement to be reached between the two parties. Both parties will file a separate statement on the matter by April 30.

Both companies have to make their CEOs available during the talks, as either party could be viewed as non-cooperative.

When Google and Oracle were in a similar situation last year, both companies went to trial. So while both companies are making CEOs available, a settlement is far from certain. The court can't force a settlement.

In case the settlement fails, a trial is scheduled for late July, and a hearing before the International Trade Commission is scheduled for June.

Apple has enjoyed near-universal dominance in the tablet market since launching the original iPad back in 2010, and currently controls around 50 percent of the market. The new iPad, which launched earlier this year, sold three million units during its debut weekend.

However, Samsung has put the heat on Apple by launching the Galaxy S devices, including the Galaxy Tab.

"In a market that is really fast growing, they have used whatever they can possibly do to compete with each other," Andrew Milroy of Frost & Sullivan said to the BBC.

(reported by Jonathan Charles, edited by Dave Clark)

 

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