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Apple, Samsung CEOs join talks, but patent claims keep coming

May 21, 2012|By David Sarno
  • A visitor tries out a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 at the World IT Show 2012 in South Korea. Apple accused Samsung of copying aspects of its iPad 2 for the device.
A visitor tries out a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 at the World IT Show 2012 in South… (SeongJoon Cho / Bloomberg )

The heads of Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. will sit opposite each other in settlement talks this week, even as the rival smartphone makers continue to blast each other with patent infringement claims.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook was scheduled to participate in a mediation conference with Samsung’s chief executive Gee-Sung Choi in front of a San Francisco judge on Monday and Tuesday to discuss how to speed the resolution of a high-profile U.S. patent case.

The 13-month-old case, in the United States District Court in Northern California, is one of many around the world that are amounting to a bruising patent war.  The two companies have repeatedly accused one another of copying the look and function of one another’s’ tablets and smartphones.

Indeed, at the same time that Cook and Choi were preparing to meet, Apple’s lawyers filed a motion asking the judge to prevent the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, claiming the Android-based tablet was designed “to mirror” Apple’s second-generation iPad, an alleged patent violation Apple said could cause its tablet business “irreparable harm.”

Though the two executives may come to agreements on minor elements of the sprawling and technical case -- in which Apple has said Samsung “slavishly copied” many aspects of its iPad and iPhone devices -- they are not considered likely to resolve it from across the negotiating table.

“This dispute isn't ripe for settlement,” patent observer Florian Mueller told Reuters. “Under the present circumstances, the two companies' delegations should spend a couple of fun days in Yosemite Park or Napa Valley, rather than meet in court only to pretend they're being constructive.”

Apple declined to comment on the timing or content of the legal talks.

Apple appeared to prevail in a separate smartphone patent case against Eastman Kodak Co., the former photography giant that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January. Kodak has accused both Apple and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion Ltd. of violating valid patents covering the way the devices recorded photos and video. A judge at the U.S. International Trade Commission disagreed.

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