Earlier this week, Apple's CEO Tim Cook and Samsung's
CEO Choi Gee–Sung met in San Francisco to explore ways to
settle their differences. US Magistrate Judge Jospeh Spero presided
over the high stakes 2-day court-directed IP mediation.
The tech giants, who are embroiled in a global patent war
involving some 20 cases in 10 different countries, agreed to put
their differences aside and talk. Whilst their intentions may have
been genuine, The Korea Times reported yesterday that the two
companies failed to reach an agreement. The US case, which is set
for a jury trial at the end of July in San Jose, California,
stemmed from Apple's allegations that Samsung
"slavishly" copied some of its products, namely the
iPhone and iPad. Samsung refute the allegations and have
countersued claiming that Apple infringed its patents.
The companies have a complex relationship. Whilst Samsung's
smartphones and tablet computers run on Google's Android
operating system and compete with Apple's products, Samsung is
a key components supplier to Apple, which generates revenue in the
region of $1bn per year for Samsung. Samsung has a 30.6% share of
the global smartphones market having sold 44.5 million handsets in
the first quarter of this year. Apple sold 35.1 million iPhones,
giving it a 24.1% share. If the rivals can't reach a
compromise, the victor of the legal contest could secure crucial
advantages in the marketplace.
Courts across the US and elsewhere are increasingly encouraging
parties to consider mediation as a means of resolving commercial
disputes. In a similar move last week, a judge in Delaware ordered
Apple and HTC, who are also feuding, to meet on 28 August 2012 to
try and resolve their ongoing patent dispute. Apple is believed to
have spent around $100m on the dispute thus far.
Historically, the Scottish courts have adopted a more hands-off
approach to mediation, but it is increasingly gaining momentum.
Many parties have found mediation to be a highly effective way to
resolve disputes of all shapes and sizes and as a result its
popularity is on the rise.
Timing can play a key part in the success of mediation. As the
Apple v Samsung case has demonstrated, mediation can still
take place even after court proceedings have been commenced. The
virtues of mediation are often not appreciated until after a few
litigious blows have been dealt. One of the many perks of mediation
is that it allows the parties to tailor their own solution. For the
time being, though, it seems the smartphone heavyweights are
content to roll the digital dice and take their chances with a
The material contained in this article is of the nature of
general comment only and does not give advice on any particular
matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information
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