Apple and Samsung have been conducting private talks about working out their ongoing patent disputes, with Samsung pushing for a cross-licensing deal that would settle all outstanding litigation, according to a report.
Drawing from heavily redacted legal documents and unnamed people familiar with the discussions, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the two companies had face-to-face meetings in Seoul in December and seemed close to settling in February before the negotiations went astray. At this point, there's nothing to indicate that a settlement is near, the Journal said, though talks, according to the unnamed people, are ongoing.
The report pulls from a 161-page International Trade Commission document explaining a June 4 ruling by the ITC that banned the importation into the U.S. of some older models of the iPhone and the iPad. The worldwide patent back-and-forth between the two companies has seen wins and losses on both sides, with Apple logging a big victory in the United States last August when a jury in Northern California awarded the company more than $1 billion. The damage amount was later cut back, and the case is moving toward an appeal.
Most of the proposed settlement terms noted in the ITC document are blacked out, the Journal says. Apple made an offer to Samsung in September; then the companies met face-to-face in mid-January but couldn't come to terms. (The reasons are blacked out.)
More face time happened in February, and the firms drafted a "memorandum of understanding," which nevertheless failed to result in a final agreement from higher-ups at the companies. The ITC papers say the companies talked until March, when things again soured, and that Samsung asked, on March 22, to get things rolling again. Apple hadn't responded by the time of the June 4 ruling.
Part of the problem apparently involves licensing rates for patented technologies. The ITC said it had issued the import ban, in part, because it thought Samsung's proposed fees for the licensing of its tech were reasonable and in good faith, and it pointed to the "memorandum of understanding" as evidence that the two companies were "playing in the same ballpark."
The Journal reported that it's not clear whether Apple has any interest in the broad cross-licensing agreement Samsung has apparently been pushing. It also notes that both companies have a reason for coming to terms. They're an odd couple: Though they've been fighting it out in court, Apple gets parts for its mobile devices from Samsung and sends a significant amount of money Samsung's way through its purchases of memory chips and processors.