Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co agreed to a mediator in an effort to resolve their patent disputes over smartphone technology before their next trial in San Jose, California, set to begin in March.
Senior legal executives at the companies met on January 6 to discuss "settlement opportunities," according to the agreement filed on Wednesday in federal court in San Jose. US District Judge Lucy Koh requested in November that both sides submit a settlement discussion proposal before trial.
The companies agreed to retain a mediator "who has experience mediating high-profile disputes," according to the filing, which doesn't name the person. The chief executive officers and three to four company lawyers, without any outside attorneys present, will attend the mediation before February 19, according to the filing. Apple and Samsung previously tried and failed to reach agreement in court-ordered settlement negotiations. In 2012, in their first patent-infringement case in San Jose, US Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero handled negotiations. The companies also met at least twice in 2011 to discuss settling their dispute before the US International Trade Commission, according to a company filing.
The world's top two smartphone makers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees on claims of copying each other's features in a global battle to dominate the market.
Samsung said on January 7 that it posted its first profit decline in nine quarters as Apple's newest iPhones won high-end handset sales. Sales of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S4 have slowed amid the releases of the iPhone 5s and 5c, and competition from Chinese makers selling handsets for as low as $100.
Apple, which released new iPhones on September 20, sold 9 million handsets in the first weekend, saying it shipped 33.8 million smartphones in the quarter ended on September 30. Samsung shipped 13 million units of its S4 in the fourth quarter, down from 17 million in the previous three months, Daewoo Securities Co said in a December 23 report.
In San Jose, Apple is again seeking an order banning sales in the US of Samsung products that were at issue in the companies' first patent trial in California even though they are now no longer on the market. Apple said in a court filing that it needed the injunction to deter Samsung from releasing new products that also infringed its patents.
The iPhone-maker last month asked Koh to bar sales of more than 20 smartphones and tablets that a jury in 2012 found to infringe Apple's patents. Total damages owed by Samsung in that case stand at $930 million.
While Koh rejected Cupertino, California-based Apple's bid for a sales ban on the infringing Samsung devices after the 2012 verdict, a federal appeals court on November 18 cleared the way for the company to pursue an injunction targeting some Samsung products. Apple's second case against Samsung in San Jose is over newer models, including Samsung's Galaxy S III.
Adam Yates, a spokesman for Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung, declined to comment on the mediation. Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, also declined to comment on it.