Like two children in an unending fistfight, Apple and Samsung continue to lay the blame on each other, this time for impeding the progress of out-of-court negotiations to settle their long-standing patent disputes.
In a joint report filed late Monday, each company said the other was responsible for the failed negotiations for taking up positions that apparently made reaching a settlement "impossible." On May 5, both smartphone makers agreed to participate in settlement proceedings initiated by the U.S. District Court for the Northern California District in San Jose, Calif.
This followed a recent court battle where an eight-person jury delivered a mixed verdict. The jury ordered Samsung to pay $119.6 million as payment for violating Apple's patents, which is a meager portion of the $2.2 billion sought by Apple. The iPhone and iPad maker also infringed on Samsung's patents, according to the court, and had to pay $158,400. The amount is also significantly lower than Samsung's $6.2 million demand. Samsung was also ordered to pay $930 million in another trial, but the decision is currently being appealed.
Ironically, the latest ruling has pushed both companies to resume talks, with Samsung lawyers saying their client is "always willing to participate if there is an interest in doing so," and Apple counsel agreeing. However, an Apple-Samsung ceasefire similar to Apple's recent agreement with Google's Motorola to dismiss all patent infringement cases doesn't seem to be anywhere in the horizon.
"Simply put, though both parties contend that they are committed to resolution, only Apple seeks to impose an obstacle to this resolution through a unilateral condition," said Samsung counsel Mike Fazio in the filing.
Apple said it was willing to resume peace talks if Samsung assures its rival that it will not use Apple's participation to reduce a royalty, in the event that both parties agree on making royalty payments in return for using the other's patented smartphone technology, or resist an injunction. Samsung did not have any conditions but accused Apple of making "improper" demands.
For its part, Apple said Samsung lawyers have made several statements that suggest Samsung has no intention of paying Apple for past infringements or stopping using Apple's patents. Apple counsel quoted news reports where Samsung's lead counsel reportedly said, "Apple's hasn't collected a penny or succeeded in taking any products off the market."
In January, Apple and Samsung have agreed to participate in mediated negotiations and have failed to reach an agreement. Why should we hope for an end to the three-year legal battle this time around?
Speaking with the Korea Times, German-based intellectual property expert Florian Mueller said Apple is sure to give in soon enough.
"Things should come to an end during the summer. Apple doesn't have an end-game strategy," Mueller said. "Its agreement with Google shows that its management is looking for a face-saving exit strategy from Steve Jobs' thermonuclear ambitions that were based on a totally unrealistic assessment of the strength of Apple's patent portfolio."
Mueller said he expects a one-time payment for Samsung's past infringements of Apple's patents would be one of the key conditions of the agreement. He also said that Apple will not attain any "strategic objectives" if it continues to go to court against Samsung.
"Apple won't regain market share that way. It won't even have an impact on Samsung's reputation," he said. "This has become a waste of time and money. Apple and Google have agreed to withdraw their pending lawsuits but they've basically agreed to disagree on the underlying strategic questions. That's why it's only a ceasefire, not a cross-license agreement."
Apple and Samsung have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to fuel their legal arsenal in the war for the throne in the $338.2 billion mobile market.