In an unexpected development, Samsung and Apple have settled all of the pending mobile patent lawsuits the firms have against each other outside the United States. The agreement relates to cases in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea and the UK, and it does not apply to intellectual property infringement allegations.
"Apple and Samsung have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States," a tersely-worded joint statement reads. "This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in US courts."
While one might naturally assume that this agreement could lead to a similar understanding about their high-profile lawsuits in the US, that doesn't appear to be the case: Indeed, it appears that Samsung and Apple—the world's biggest and second-biggest makers of smart phones and related devices, respectively—could be dropping their other cases specifically so that they can now focus on the US cases.
Samsung has thus far found itself on the receiving end of the US cases, which date back to 2011, but the actual damage has been minimal given the stakes: Despite two major and high-profile losses, Samsung has only been ordered to pay about $1.1 billion in patent infringement damages to Apple, though it is of course appealing both verdicts. Samsung just posted a profit of $7 billion for a single quarter, so it should be able to find that much cash somewhere.
Worse, Apple's victory in the second of these cases was far from decisive: Apple was demanding $2 billion in damages in that case, but was awarded less than $120 million. (Samsung owes $930 million from the first case.)
This is the second time Apple has settled broadly with a rival this year. In May, the firm announced with Motorola Mobility that the two companies had agreed to dismiss all current lawsuits between the two companies. They also agreed to vaguely "work together in some areas of patent reform," though we're still sitting here on the edge of our seats waiting to see what comes of that bit.