Why Can't We Be Friends? Samsung and Apple Agree to Patent Mediation Talks

Apple Tim Cook Samsung KwonBitter legal rivals Apple and Samsung have agreed to hold high-level talks in an effort to mediate the dispute between the companies before the next round of litigation begins in March, according to a Reuters report late Wednesday. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon will reportedly attend the mediation session alongside attorneys for each firm, with a goal of holding the session by February 19th. A lower profile meeting between the attorneys for each company was held on Monday, January 6th, to “discuss settlement opportunities.”

Apple and Samsung have been battling in the courts for over two years, with Apple accusing Samsung of violating key patents on a variety of mobile devices. Although Apple has thus far prevailed on the merits in several jurisdictions, the protracted litigation is proving to be a costly and distracting endeavor.

While Apple’s reported legal fees of $60 million are relatively small change for the company, the process of litigating, requesting an injunction, and then finally achieving an import ban on infringing devices simply can’t keep up with the market’s release schedule. The Samsung devices found to infringe in the first trial, for example, were mostly out of date and no longer profitable for the Korean firm. This reality, coupled with the unpopularity of import bans by both U.S. legal and regulatory authorities, makes the idea of a settlement far more agreeable to Apple.

The upcoming meeting won’t be the first between heads of the two companies. Mr. Cook meet with Samsung’s then-CEO Choi Gee-Sung in May of 2012, but talks broke down after Samsung rejected Apple’s demand for royalties. Another meeting in mid–2013 also failed to gain traction.