Apple and Samsung settled their long-running patent battle on Wednesday. After seven years, numerous appeals, and multiple courts that found Samsung to be a blatant copycat, the two companies have put an end to their fight. Terms of the deal are not known.
Apple sued Samsung in 2011 for copying patented design elements in iOS and the original iPhone. Then CEO Steve Jobs promised to go thermonuclear against Android device makers for stealing his company’s work. Though the first verdict came in after Mr. Jobs passed away, Apple proved to the jury that Samsung willfully copied key aspects of both iPhone and iOS and won more than a billion dollars in damages.
Samsung, IP Thief
Samsung has a long history of stealing intellectual property, getting sued, losing, and then using the appeals process to drag the fight out for years, and that’s just what Samsung did in this case. The company got the damages reduced, and in a series of back and forth appeals, wound up owing Apple $539 million in damages as of May of this year.
Samsung vowed to appeal yet again, demanding yet another trial—again, this being the copycat’s strategy in many industries where it stole from its betters—as recently as June 13th.
Which brings in Wednesday’s news of a settlement. In Apple, Samsung more than met its match in the courtroom. Apple beat the Samsung on the merits of its case repeatedly, but more importantly, Apple didn’t need Samsung to leave the market to continue to do well in the market. In TVs and other electronics markets, Samsung would steal IP, use its superior logistics to monetize that stolen IP and put the hurt on the competition. Then Samsung would get sued, lose, and then drag the case out while sucking up market share with that stolen IP until the real innovators gave up.
Samsung was often able to settle for pennies on the dollar by that point, but it seems doubtful Apple would do that. Mind you, even if Samsung pays hundreds of millions in the settlement it won’t cover Apple’s court costs, but Apple had no need to settle for pennies on the dollar. Apple could afford to go all night long if necessary, beating Samsung every step of the way.
What Happens in a Secret Settlement, Stays in a Secret Settlement
The funny thing is that as many eyes as there were on this case, we may never know what those terms actually are. It’s conceivable one company or the other could leak it, or that the terms could enter as evidence in some future case, but in reality this information is probably locked up tighter than a drum.
Personally, I just hope however much money it was leaves a mark on Samsung.