Samsung Electronics Co. will withdraw patent lawsuits seeking to block sales of Apple Inc. products as part of litigation over the use of its technology in European countries, the company said today.”Samsung has decided to withdraw our injunction requests against Apple on the basis of our standard essential patents pending in European courts, in the interest of protecting consumer choice,” the Suwon, South Korea-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. The decision on European lawsuits comes hours after a U.S. court ruled it wouldn’t ban sales of 26 Samsung products in a patent lawsuit.
Samsung and Apple, the world’s two biggest smartphone makers, have traded victories in their patent disputes fought over four continents since the Cupertino, California-based company last year accused Asia’s biggest electronics maker of “slavishly copying” its devices. The companies, competing for dominance of the global smartphone market estimated by Bloomberg Industries at $219 billion last year, are fighting patent battles even as Apple remains Samsung’s biggest customer.
Samsung will unilaterally withdraw its request for injunctions against Apple in Germany, U.K., France, Italy and Netherlands, a senior official at the company said. The company will continue litigation that seek damages in intellectual property disputes.
Some of the cases involve Samsung’s claims that Apple infringed its patents over so-called standard-essential technology for wireless communications, the person said. Such patents are selected as an industry standard that must usually be licensed on fair terms.
“We strongly believe it is better when companies compete fairly in the marketplace, rather than in court,” Seoul-based Samsung said in the statement.
Samsung’s injunctions also triggered a European Union antitrust investigation that examines whether the company violated agreements to licence standards-essential patents to other mobile-phone manufacturers on fair terms.
Alan Hely, a spokesman for Apple in London, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and a phone call seeking comment. Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the European Commission, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on whether Samsung’s decision to end the lawsuits would affect the EU’s antitrust probe.
The patent disputes began when Samsung released its Galaxy smartphones in 2010. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs vowed before his death last year to wage “thermonuclear war” to prove that phones run on Google Inc.’s Android operating system copy the iPhone.
Apple in August won a California court victory awarding it more than $1.05 billion in damages when jurors found that Samsung infringed six of seven patents. Apple settled all its lawsuits with Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC Corp. last month.