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Samsung is said to propose end Apple patent fight in Australia

September 30, 2011 |  9:01 am

Apple iPad 2 (left) and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Samsung Electronics and Apple are locked in an international patent battle in Europe, the U.S., Asia and Australia that has lasted for months and resulted in some sales bans of Samsung phones and tablets.

But Samsung might be ready to end the dispute. According to a Bloomberg news report, Samsung has made a proposal to Apple that would bring an end to a patent suit between the two tech giants in Australia "regarding touch-screen technology, a Sydney court was told today."

Samsung lawyers didn't tell Bloomberg what the proposal looked like, and Apple lawyers told the news agency that it "will need time to consider it," the report said. Samsung and Apple officials were unavailable to comment to The Times on Friday morning.

In August, Samsung agreed to halt the sales of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet until its patent dispute with Apple is resolved with either a settlement or court order. In September, the judge in that suit suggested Apple might have a better chance of winning the dispute if it were to show how its sales have been affected by Samsung's tablets and phones.

Apple has argued in court filings that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 could be detrimental to iPad sales due to alleged patent infringement. The iPad has sold alongside the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the U.S. and Britain, although neither Apple nor Samsung has publicly released sales figures for their respective tablets in those countries.

The patent fight between the two companies kicked off in April after Apple sued Samsung in San Francisco, arguing that its lines of Galaxy Tab tablets and Galaxy phones infringed on some Apple patents as well as the look and feel of the Apple iPad tablet and iPhone.

Samsung responded with a patent suit of its own in Seoul, where it's based, alleging that the iPhone and iPad infringe on a handful of its patents.

Since then, the suits and counter-suits between the two companies have spread to a number of European countries, as well as Japan and France.

The reported proposal from Samsung seems to be the first somewhat public move toward trying to bring an end to all this. While Samsung and Apple are hardware rivals, they are business partners too. Samsung makes displays and internal components for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

The patent suits have resulted not only in the Australia sales freeze but also a temporary sales ban on Samsung's Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Ace smartphones across 30 European countries. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 7.7 are also temporarily banned from being sold in Germany due to the same patent dispute there.

If Apple and Samsung don't reach some sort of settlement, Australian Judge Annabelle Bennett has said she will work toward delivering a ruling sometime next week regarding the sales injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1. However, Bennett did say she "couldn't give a time-frame for a decision on the injunction," Bloomberg said.

We at least know the two sides are talking and willing to make some concessions. Earlier in the week, in Australia, Samsung agreed to remove two features from its Galaxy 10.1 that Apple said infringed on its patents, the report said. In response, Apple dropped a couple of claims in the suit regarding touch-screen patents, Bloomberg said.

If a settlement isn't reached, there is a chance the dispute could head to a trial in Australia.

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Samsung to pay Microsoft to use Android: Extortion or partnership?

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: An Apple iPad 2, left, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 at a store in the Hague, Netherlands, last month. Credit: Robert Vos / EPA.

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