An Apples iPhone 5 and a Samsung Electronics Galaxy S4

Samsung and Apple drop non-US patent cases

Samsung and Apple have agreed to end all patent lawsuits between each other outside the US.

Samsung Electronics said today that it and Apple will continue to pursue existing cases in US courts, but the move is a step back from three years of legal hostilities between the world's two largest smartphone makers.

The companies have been embroiled in years of bitter patent disputes over the intellectual property rights for mobile designs and technology with legal fights spanning roughly a dozen countries in Asia, North America and Europe.

"Samsung and Apple have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States," the South Korean company said. "This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in US courts."

Lawsuits and other legal actions by Samsung and Apple will come to an end in countries including Germany, England, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

The series of high-stake lawsuits over some of the world's most popular gadgets began in April 2011 when Apple accused Samsung, the maker of Galaxy phones, of copying the iPhone to which Samsung responded by claiming that Apple had stolen its mobile technology.

In May, a California jury awarded Apple $119m (£70m) in a patent battle with Samsung, but the same jury also ordered Apple to pay $158,400 to Samsung after finding that Apple had infringed one of Samsung's patents in creating the iPhone 4 and 5.

In a separate 2012 jury verdict, Samsung was ordered to pay Apple $930m, though the South Korean firm appealed.

Some analysts said the two companies would eventually bury the hatchet and sign a cross-licensing deal, following the usual pattern of patent cases in the technology industry, and there were earlier signs that tensions had eased between two companies after they agreed to drop their appeals at the US International Trade Commission in June.

But at other times, it seemed the differences were too wide to be bridged. The chief executives of both companies reportedly met several times at the recommendation of a US judge to discuss out of court settlements.

Despite damage claims and sales bans of old products the battle has not been too damaging to the two companies – Samsung vaulted to the leading position in the global smartphone market during the last three years.

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