Apple, Samsung blame each other for settlement stalemate

Lawyers for both companies vowed to continue to pursue an accord to end their three-year legal fight over smartphone technology.

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Apple and Samsung blamed each another for blocking progress toward a settlement of their patent disputes in a report to the judge who has presided over their two US trials.

While lawyers for both companies vowed to continue to pursue an accord to end their three-year legal fight over smartphone technology, they each said their adversary has taken positions that make out-of-court resolution more difficult, according to a filing yesterday in federal court in San Jose, California.

Jurors in the second trial on May 2 awarded $120 million in damages to Apple over infringement of its patents, while also concluding that Apple infringed one of Samsung’s patents. The verdict sets the stage for each company to seek a court order banning US sales of some older devices found to infringe its patents.

The world’s top two smartphone makers have tried and failed before to reach a settlement while spending hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees on battles across four continents to dominate a market that was valued at $338.2 billion last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Samsung’s share of global smartphone shipments in the first quarter of 2014 fell to about 31 per cent from 32 per cent a year earlier, according to Strategy Analytics. Apple’s share fell to about 15 per cent from 17.5 per cent in the same period, while Chinese producers such as Huawei and Xiaomi gained in emerging markets with cheaper, feature-packed devices.

Reaching a settlement is “impossible” as long as Samsung refuses to agree that Apple’s participation in talks can’t be used in any proceedings over royalties or possible sales bans, Apple lawyer Mark Selwyn said in yesterday’s filing with US District Judge Lucy Koh, who has repeatedly urged the companies to make peace.

Michael Fazio, a lawyer for Samsung, said that while the company doesn’t have pre-conditions for the settlement process, Apple’s condition is improper.

“Simply put, though both parties contend that they are committed to resolution, only Apple seeks to impose an obstacle to this resolution through a unilateral condition,” Fazio said in the filing.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook, Samsung mobile chief Shin Jong-Kyun and other executives from both companies attended a full-day session with a mediator in the first week of February, and representatives from both sides had several follow-up phone calls with the mediator, according to a report the companies filed that month.

Apple and Samsung previously tried and failed to reach an agreement in court-ordered settlement negotiations. In 2012, in their first patent-infringement case in San Jose, US Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero handled negotiations. The companies also met at least twice in 2011 to discuss settling their dispute before the US International Trade Commission, according to an Apple filing.

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