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Samsung, Apple call truce in non-US patent war

SEOUL -- Archrivals Samsung and Apple decided Wednesday to drop all patent disputes outside the United States, marking a partial ceasefire in a long-running legal war between the world's two largest smartphone makers.

Both companies have been locked in a three-year battle of litigative attrition in close to a dozen countries, with each accusing the other of infringing on various patents related to their flagship smartphone and tablet products.

But neither has managed to deliver a knockout blow with a number of rulings going different ways, and Wednesday's announcement suggested a line was finally being drawn.

“Samsung and Apple have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States,” Samsung said in a statement.

However, the agreement came with one key caveat, with the two giants stressing that they would continue “to pursue the existing cases in U.S. courts.”

The patent row kicked off in earnest back in 2011, when Apple sued Samsung in a US court, and swiftly went trans-continental with cases being heard in South Korea, Germany, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, England, France and Australia, among others.

Apple has accused its South Korean rival of massive and willful copying of its designs and technology for smartphones and tablets, and has asked for a bar on U.S. sales of Samsung smartphones and tablet computers.

Samsung has counter-claimed that Apple had used some of its technology without permission.

The two firms had been pushed into talks in early February by a U.S. court order that saw Apple CEO Tim Cook and his Samsung mobile communications counterpart JK Shin attend a full-day negotiation session, along with their advisors and legal teams.

But despite several follow-ups, the mediator's settlement proposal was not taken up and the litigation continued.

In the latest development in May, a jury in federal court in California awarded Apple close to US$120 million in damages in one of its patent suits with Samsung.

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An advertisement shows Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S5 LTE-A, right, and Apple's iPhone 5s at a mobile phone shop in Seoul, Wednesday, Aug. 6. Samsung and Apple Inc. have agreed to end all patent lawsuits between each other outside the U.S. in a step back from three years of legal hostilities between the world's two largest smartphone makers.

(AP)

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