Apple and Samsung have agreed to settlement talks recommended by Judge Lucy Koh in the company’s epic patent dispute in the U.S. Both companies have signed off on having their CEOs—Apple’s Tim Cook and Samsung’s Choi Gee-sung—participate in the settlement talks, which will be overseen by a San Francisco-based magistrate.
According to Reuters, the two firms have been engaged in a patent war since Samsung released its Galaxy line of Android-powered smartphone and tablets. The late Steve Jobs accused Samsung of “slavishly” copying Apple’s own iPhone and iPad devices, a line that has been repeated often and loudly in court filings around the world.
Both companies have sued, counter sued, and complained with regulatory bodies like the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Each has scored minor victories along the way, but neither company has scored a knockout blow that would force the other to capitulate.
The court battles in the U.S. have been presided over by Judge Koh. In December of 2011, Judge Koh rejected Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction against Samsung, and she expressed doubt at that time over the validity of the design patent Apple was trying to assert.
Steve Jobs was outraged at what he saw as the wholesale theft of Apple’s design and software inventions. In the Walter Isaacson biography Steve Jobs, Mr. Jobs threatened thermonuclear war over the issue, and promised to spend every penny of what was at that time a US$40 billion war chest in the process if he had to.
That war chest has ballooned to more than $100 billion, but judging by today’s news, Mr. Jobs’s successor, Tim Cook, appears willing to settle the patent battles rather than going the distance.