Apple,Samsung CEOs in U.S. court talks over patent row

Mon May 21, 2012 3:13am EDT
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By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The chief executives of Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd come face to face on Monday in court-directed mediation in the United States over a dispute in which the iPhone maker claims the Korean firm has "slavishly" copied some of its products.

Apple's Tim Cook and Samsung's Choi Gee-sung have been instructed by a federal judge to appear for mediation in San Francisco to help resolve the bitter patent litigation between the two firms.

The U.S. case, the most closely watched in a global patent war between the two companies involving some 20 cases in 10 countries, is set for trial at the end of July in San Jose, California. Each company denies the other's allegations of patent infringement.

Patent expert Florian Mueller cautioned against any expectations that mediation, which is being increasingly used to try to resolve U.S. civil disputes, would lead to a significant breakthrough in the case.

"This dispute isn't ripe for settlement," he said. "Under the present circumstances, the two companies' delegations should spend a couple of fun days in Yosemite Park or Napa Valley, rather than meet in court only to pretend they're being constructive."

Apple, the maker of hit products such as the iPod, iPad and iPhone, has a complex relationship with Samsung, a conglomerate that makes computer chips, gadgets including its Galaxy range of smartphones, and televisions.

While Samsung's smartphones and tablets run on Google's Android operating system and compete with Apple's products, Samsung is also a key components supplier to Apple.

The U.S. company, which investors value at close to $600 billion, has accused Samsung of "slavishly" copying the iPhone and iPad through products that run on Android. Samsung, which has a stock market value of about $161 billion, has counter-sued with claims accusing Apple of infringing its patents.   Continued...

Samsung Electronics' Galaxy tablet computers are displayed at a store in Seoul March 14, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji