File - AP Photo/ Ahn Young-joon
Samsung, Apple Drop Patent War Outside US

Arch-rivals Samsung and Apple have decided to drop a series of bitter patent disputes pending in multiple courts outside the United States, the South Korean electronics giant said today.

The two companies have been locked in a prolonged war of legal attrition in close to a dozen countries, with each accusing the other of infringing on various patents related to their flagship smartphone and tablet products.

"Samsung and Apple have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States," Samsung said in a statement.

"This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in US courts," it added.

The patent row kicked off in earnest back in 2011, when Apple sued Samsung in a US court, and swiftly went trans-continental with cases being heard in South Korea, Germany, Japan, Italia, the Netherlands, England, France and Australia among others.

The fight will continue in US courts where Apple has accused its South Korean rival of massive and wilful copying of its designs and technology for smartphones and tablets, and has asked for a bar on US sales of Samsung smartphones and tablet computers.

Samsung has counter-claimed that Apple had used some of its technology without permission.

Despite the multiple cases, neither company has managed to land a knockout legal blow against the other, and a number of judges have urged the two giants to settle their differences out of court.

"They have nothing to gain with a prolonged legal battle because the market situation has changed -- no more merit of the old strategy to expand market share through attacks on rivals," Daishin Securities analyst Claire Kim told AFP.

Due to challenges from Chinese and Indian firms, Apple and Samsung will try to maintain their solid status in the premium smartphone market through innovation, she said.

"The two giants are not expected to expand lawsuits in the US because of the pressure to produce attractive new high-end products," she said.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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