updated 07:56 pm EST, Sat February 22, 2014
CEOs, top lawyers met in early February, but could not come to agreement
Ahead of the second patent trial between Apple and Samsung scheduled for March 31 -- which covers a completely different set of patents and is not an appeal of the first trial, which Apple won last year -- the two companies are said to be making efforts at settling their differences rather than going to trial. Thus far -- as before, ahead of the first trial -- the negotiations have not resulted in an agreement, but in a court filing, both companies said they were willing to keep talking.
High-level officials -- including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung Mobile and IT CEO J.K. Shin -- have held in-person and teleconference sessions during early February. Both sides have spoken with a neutral mediator multiple times since then, reports AppleInsider, with Apple holding teleconference calls more than six times in an effort to resolve the issues.
A major sticking point in the negotiations appears to be Apple's insistence on an "anti-cloning" provision in any licensing deal, such as it has in its agreements with Microsoft and HTC. Samsung is -- unsurprisingly -- is said to be resistant to the idea.
In "status report" court documents filed late on Friday by both companies, the two entities said they were both willing to continue to work with the mediator, a hopeful sign that some progress may have been made. The two parties also went down this path ahead of the first trial, but were unable to come to an agreement then -- which lead to a total loss on Samsung's part on all of their claims, and a near-total victory for Apple on all of its arguments. The initial damage award given to Apple in the first trial was reduced from just over $1 billion to around $900 million in a later juried re-calculation of some damages, but in both instances the jurors overwhelmingly agreed that Samsung had stolen IP from Apple, and damaged sales by producing "copycat" products.
The upcoming second trial is already weighted in Apple's favor, as it has already won a decision from Judge Lucy Koh in pre-trial hearings that Samsung infringed on one of Apple's five claims allowed in this trial -- a fact that Apple will be free to mention before the jurors. For its part, Samsung has already had one of its original five claims shot down by the judge as being an invalid patent owing to the existence of prior art. Samsung will instead present two claims from one of its remaining four patents, but two of the patents Samsung claims infringement on are self-declared "standards-essential" patents -- which in theory shouldn't even be used in litigation, since they must be licensed according to FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) guidelines, which Samsung appears to be flouting.
Judge Koh, who requested the settlement talks initially, is likely to approve of the ongoing efforts, as she has clearly indicated in the past that she would prefer to see the matter settled out of court. Samsung has had no luck trying to make any of its worldwide cases against Apple, but has recently announced a number of licensing deals with other manufacturers in an effort to avoid additional litigation. Samsung continues to be under investigation by European bodies over its abuse of FRAND guidelines on standards-essential patents.