Apple And Samsung Ended A 7-Year Patent War With Little To Show For It

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Apple and Samsung are no longer fighting. In the legal system, at the very least. The two tech giants have finally ended a 7-year patent battle in which both companies argued the other’s phones used technology that had already been patented.

According to The New York Times, the series of legal battles all stem from an initial 2011 lawsuit Apple filed against Samsung for using technology in the company’s iPhone design. The next few years were full of countersuits, appeal hearings, and various trials. There was even a case heard by the Supreme Court in 2016.

The Times reported that the two sides officially settled all of their claims against one another on Wednesday, bringing an end to a long, drawn-out battle over phone technology in which Apple even tried to block Samsung phones from reaching the market.

The legal battles have gone on so long that the phones included in many of the lawsuits were not even available for sale anymore, which means that the struggle mainly came down to monetary settlements. And, when you consider all the legal fees both sides racked up over the last seven years, the results aren’t all that impressive.

The Times reported that Apple wanted more than $2 billion in damages, while Samsung claimed it was owed $28 million. A jury ruled initially that the number was around $1 billion, but another decision brought that amount down to $539 million. Samsung had filed yet another appeal to that ruling earlier in the month, but the two sides finally agreed to a settlement to end the dispute on Wednesday.

That sounds like a lot of money, but considering Apple has $267 billion in cash in its reserves, it’s small change after what became a vast, expensive battle. The Times has some quotes from analysts that minimize the result of a fight that took the better part of a decade.

“And if I had to characterize it, it didn’t really accomplish anything,” said Brian J. Love, a Santa Clara University law professor who tracked the case. “Close to a decade of litigation, hundreds of millions of dollars spent on lawyers, and at the end of the day, no products went off the market.”

Though Apple won on paper, it sounds like legal analysts were frustrated with the debacle and how little the result mattered to both companies.

“Apple can find better ways of earning hundreds of millions of dollars than fighting a decade-long lawsuit,” Mr. Love said.

Hopefully the two sides will just get back to making phones and not focusing on legal battles in the courts. New iPhones seem like a more natural way to make money a whole lot faster.

(Via The New York Times, The Verge)