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Apple and Samsung reportedly close to ceasefire, for real this time?

According to Korea Times, Apple and Samsung are coming close to a ceasefire and possible arrangement that could end their patent war. We've heard this more than once before, but could it finally be happening? Should the war even end?
June 17, 2014
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There’s a few things you can be certain of in life: death, taxes and Apple’s continued attacks against Samsung. Sure, there’s been various times over the course of the Apple/Samsung war where the two parties have supposedly considered peace talks, but ultimately none of this has gone anywhere.

As Apple continues to globally fight Samsung in court with many more wins than losses under its belt, could Samsung finally give in and reach some kind of arrangement with Apple? If a new report from Korea Times proves correct, it’s possible.

Speaking with sources familiar with Samsung and Apple’s private negotiations, the two parties are said to be close to reaching a ceasefire. According to an unnamed industry official:

We are trimming down the number of disputed issues. We no longer want to spend time talking about secondary points. Both firms are trying to find common ground. It’s too early to say that the ongoing working-level talks will produce an immediate breakthrough, but we are more practical about trying to find a solution.

Lending further credence to the idea that Samsung and Apple are actively working to solve their differences, FossPatents’ Florian Mueller reports that both companies recently agreed to drop all cross-appeals related to last year’s US ITC ruling regarding Samsung’s violation of headset plug detection and touchscreen interface feature patent.

What’s the motivating factors behind the latest moves towards peace? You’d think that that the countless money spent in and out of court would be the key factor, but reportedly it has more to do with Apple’s desire to keep Samsung as a top-tier components partner for processors, displays and more.


Peace for the sake of improving Apple and Samsung’s business relationship

During the height of the Samsung and Apple war we’ve heard numerous reports suggesting Apple had plans to pull back the use of Samsung components. There have also been reports in the past that claimed Samsung would completely cut Apple off as a partner.

Yet here we are in 2014 and Apple still remains one of Samsung’s top three clients for displays (as of Q1 2014). Furthermore, Apple’s portion of display purchases actually rose over 9 percent during Q1 2014, showing that things aren’t exactly slowing down.

Apple still remains one of Samsung’s top three clients for display

According to Korea Times, one source also claims that Apple is eyeing Samsung OLED technology for use in its future wearables and considers Samsung a valuable partner in the field of wearable display technology. In addition to displays, Samsung is also known for producing other crucial components for Apple, including Apple’s processing package. It is true that Apple signed on TSMC to help with this effort, but Samsung still remains their key partner for this effort.

Bottom-line, if the war keeps on like this, it will be increasingly difficult for Samsung and Apple to continue doing business as tensions increase. That said, both companies rely heavily on one another when it comes to component purchases, making it hard to quit each other.

galaxy s5 vs iphone 5s aa (14 of 14)

Can Samsung and Apple actually find common crowd?

It’s pretty obvious that settling their differences would save both companies time and money spent in and out of court fighting. Settling differences would also allow them to cozy up and improve their working relationship.

it comes down to which company is willing to concede the most ground and give up any potential advantages that continuing the fight brings

On the other hand, settling also means that both parties have to give something up. For Apple, refusing to settle is probably less about money and more about marketing. Let’s face it, every time Apple and Samsung goes to court we see titles like “Apple suing Samsung for copying (X)”.

The true techie types know there’s more to the issues than this, but consumers see these sensationalist headlines and are likely to make a few assumptions, regardless of the facts:

  • Samsung products are a cheap imitation of Apple products.
  • Samsung copies, and therefore is morally unsound.
  • Apple is just fighting for what is right, and therefore is the ‘better’ company.

In short, Apple’s court battles make Samsung look bad by painting the company as a cheap copycat that can’t come up with its own ideas. Nevermind the fact that Samsung’s software features and even hardware features like the S-Pen are very different from what you’ll find over at Camp Apple.

As for Samsung? In order to settle with Apple, they’ll likely need to pay royalties. Again, it’s not really (just) about the money. Samsung can easily fork over the money, but doing so could be seen by some as an admission of guilt. By continuing the good fight, Samsung proponents see that Sammy isn’t giving in and it becomes obvious that Samsung doesn’t believe it copied Apple’s products — at least not to the level Apple claims.

So can the two companies bury the hatchet? I’m not so sure. Anything is possible, but it comes down to which company is willing to concede the most ground and give up any potential advantages that continuing the fight brings. What do you think, can Apple and Samsung come to an agreement? Should they, or are they better off fighting it out until the bitter end?