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CEOs of Apple and Samsung to discuss settlement

Apple and Samsung this week agreed to hold mediation talks ahead of the third trial between the companies in two years that starts in March. The companies proposed to discuss possible settlement by chief executive officers of the two firms as well as their senior legal counsels. The talks do not mean that the two companies will settle disputes out-of-court shortly.

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, and Oh-Hyun Kwon, chief executive of Samsung, along with three or four in-house counsels will attend the mediation, which will take place by or before February 19, 2014. The parties have agreed upon a mediator who has experience mediating high profile disputes, according to a court filing.

Apple and Samsung are both strategic partners and arch-rivals. In the past, Apple accused Samsung of copying design elements of its devices as well as infringing Apple’s patents related to graphics user interface (GUI). Samsung also accused Apple of patents infringements. The U.S. federal court and juries have so far awarded Apple a total of roughly $930 million in damages by Samsung, according to Reuters.

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Specifics of the third trial are not known, but potentially Apple’s accusations may be more serious and/or harder to work around than previously, according to Florian Mueller, an intellectual property expert who owns Foss Patents.

“Samsung and its lawyers are going to look at the patents Apple is asserting at the upcoming trial. Those are potentially more impactful than the design and user interface stuff asserted at the 2012. […] But if Samsung’s engineers and lawyers have a viable workaround strategy in place just in the event that Apple prevails and obtains an injunction, then Samsung has only a limited incentive to settle,” said Mr. Mueller.

While the mediation on the CEO level seems to be an important and clearly a noteworthy one, it rather shows a natural state of things (the two companies will settle all disputes sometimes in the future), than is supposed to bring any fruits shortly.

KitGuru Says: While it is clear that Apple and Samsung will settle legal disputes since the companies can collaborate pretty successfully, which is good for the consumer, the question is when this happens. 

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