just smoked a big peace pipe. The two companies have agreed to
all lawsuits against one another, on a global level. But the one
corner of the planet where the patent battles will rage on
happens to be the absolutely crucial U.S. arena.
It's not often you see a joint statement by these sworn
enemies, except when it's about the next Apple gadget having
Samsung's latest technologies inside. But that's what we got
Apple and Samsung have agreed to drop all litigation between
the two companies outside the United States. This agreement
does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies
are continuing to pursue the existing cases in U.S. courts.
So that's the end of legal entanglements across cases in
Europe, Asia, and Australia. Lawsuits have been flying since
. At one point, there were more than 50
Apple v. Samsung
Samsung v. Apple
lawsuits in various courts around the world.
Both companies scored some victories in these international
battlefields. Generally speaking, Apple has prevailed in European
and Australian courts, while Samsung fared better in Japan.
Curiously, Samsung's South Korean home court delivered a split
It's good to see the worldwide rivalry cooling down by a few
degrees. Dropping these legal pursuits and cross-filings will let
both Apple and Samsung get back to innovation, and to designing
the next amazing bit of mobile technology. Hold that thought for
The enormous exception
This partial cease fire is far from the end of the war.
Conflicts in places like Germany and Japan have mostly held
Apple and Samsung back from shipping older, already obsolete
versions of their smartphone and tablet devices. By the time the
legal machinery had crunched through each particular case, there
were already a new iPhone, another iPad, and several new Samsung
Galaxy devices on store shelves.
So these cases only resulted in slaps on the wrist -- a mere
diversion that amounted to rounding errors on the top and bottom
lines of these billion-dollar brawlers.
This friendly handshake left the biggest fish on the table. In
U.S. courts, Samsung has already been ordered to
pay more than $1 billion
in patent injunction damages -- and
there's another trial under way
with as much as $2 billion at stake.
This is not Monopoly money. It's big business over here,
making it difficult to simply drop everything and go in for a
Note that the foreign agreements don't amount to settling
anything, don't include cross-licensing rights to the disputed
patents, and don't really do anything to clear out the final and
most central conflict. If Apple and Samsung really want to
end this patent war, they will have to agree on what it's worth.
With this much money at risk, that seems impossible to do without
a proper judge, 12 angry men, and a long series of appeals.
Still holding that thought about getting back to innovation? OK,
You could argue that this incomplete truce points toward the
end of the entire mobile patent struggle. Won't it be easier to
find common ground in this focal battlefield, now that all the
fringe distractions have been resolved?
But if making that case, you're not paying attention to the
bigger picture. Smartphones still represent a growth market, but
mostly in emerging markets
where price points matter more than complete feature sets or
beautiful design. As for tablets,
the go-go-growth era appears to have ended
Which means that Apple must be looking for one final big-money
payout here, as the mobile market as we know it starts slowing
down. It's time to disrupt the iPhone and iPad with another
game-changing innovation, just like those cash-printing devices
did to the old iPod empire.
looks like the next logical step, but Apple has always known how
to deliver big surprises in the face of near-certain
On the other side of the fence, I bet Samsung would absolutely
love to settle its American differences with Apple and avoid
another potential billion-dollar payout. But it's not like the
defendant can set the rules and expect the plaintiff to simply
A big Apple victory in court is not guaranteed, but it will
keep fighting as long as that
outcome remains available.
So this is not the end of
Steve Jobs' "thermonuclear war" on Android
, with Samsung in its sights as the largest trophy on the field.
Apple is settling its differences with various Android bigwigs
and getting ready to move on -- but Samsung is not getting off
the hook so easy.
There's just too much money in play.
More from The Motley Fool:
Warren Buffett Tells You How to Turn $40 into
Samsung and Apple Call a Halfhearted Patent
Truce, But the War Rages On
originally appeared on Fool.com.
has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool
recommends and owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish
free for 30 days
We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all
considering a diverse range of insights
makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a
Copyright © 1995 - 2014 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights
reserved. The Motley Fool has a