Apple and Samsung will enter settlement talks in California in an effort to resolve their dual patent infringement suits. The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, will represent the company alongside their general counsel. Samsung will also be represented in the talks by its CEO, Gee-Sung Choi, and general counsel. San Francisco based Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero will lead the talks, which were announced in an order from U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh on April 16th. While the talks indicate that both companies might be willing to resolve their differences cooperatively, spokespeople say that the August 25th trial date is still on and that the settlement discussion will only serve to focus the case before appearances in court.
The talks were entered into only semi-voluntarily. Both companies were ordered to indicate their availability for an attempt at Alternative Dispute Resolution, which forced their hands; had one company indicated that their CEO could participate and the other had not, it would have reflected poorly upon them. The Magistrate Judge Settlement Conference will have to take place within 90 days of the court order, or by July 22nd. Given that both parties intend to stick to the August 25th trial date, it remains to be seen what sort of timing strategy they intend to pursue.
Both companies are still doing approximately $8B of business per year with each other, according to analyst estimates; Apple purchases memory chips, displays, and other components from Samsung. In Germany and Australia, Apple has won injunctions against Samsung’s tablet computer, but Samsung was able to overcome them with design revisions and appeals. However, legal battles continue in several other countries, and as Q1 earnings reports are announced, these will possibly intensify. On Friday, April 20th, Forbes reported that Samsung sold over 40 million smartphones in this time period, significantly outdoing the predicted 33 million iPhones sold by Apple. The official report from Apple will appear tomorrow.