Apple, Samsung settle patent fight after 7 years

SAN FRANCISCO • After seven years of litigation that spanned the globe, Apple and Samsung have definitively ended a patent battle launched after the US firm accused its rival of "slavishly" copying the iPhone's ground-breaking design.

According to a brief United States court filing on Wednesday, the two biggest smartphone-makers finally reached a settlement. Financial terms were not revealed. Neither firm elaborated on the court order by US District Court Judge Lucy Koh which dismissed the litigation "with prejudice" - leaving no option of reopening the case in future.

The deal came a month after a federal court jury ordered the South Korean consumer electronics giant to pay Apple US$539 million (S$738 million) for copying patented iPhone features.

That award was seen as a victory for Apple, which had argued in court that design was intrinsic to the iPhone, and so it should enjoy protection as a whole against copycats beyond the usual patents afforded to hardware components.

The US action was the first of dozens of lawsuits spanning Europe, Asia and Australia. The rival companies went head to head over what constitutes protected design in both the hardware and features of their phones and tablet computers.

In the original US lawsuit filed in 2011, Apple said Samsung had "chosen to slavishly copy" the technology, interfaces and product design of the iPhone, which revolutionised mobile telephony when it was launched in 2007.

But Wednesday's court order declares an armistice between the sector leaders, and legal experts said it was the inevitable outcome given the pace of change in smartphones since 2011.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2018, with the headline 'Apple, Samsung settle patent fight after 7 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe