Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics have agreed to work with a mediator and try to end their high-profile patent war. Mediation is scheduled to begin by February 19.
Company executives met to discuss settlement after US District Judge Lucy Koh ordered them to submit a proposal for settling their case before her. They’ve already agreed on a mediator, whose identity has not been disclosed.
If the parties are unable to resolve their dispute, they face another trial in March.
During pre-trial proceedings, Apple claimed that Samsung’s smartphones and tablets infringed Apple patents on the iPhone 5. Samsung argued that parts of Apple’s patents were invalid.
In August of 2012 a California federal court jury concluded that Samsung’s devices infringed Apple’s iPhone patents and awarded Apple more than a billion dollars in damages. A retrial was held after the judge determined jurors had improperly calculated damages, but Samsung still owes Apple hundreds of millions of dollars.
Samsung is seeking to have damages reduced to $52.7 million. The South Korean company also claims that the verdict was unsupported by the evidence and influenced by Apple’s patent attorneys’ “direct appeals to racial prejudice.”
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in which the parties seek to come to a negotiated settlement with the help of a neutral third-party mediator. Mediators are often retired judges, and may also be experienced attorneys or even laypeople.
In mediation the parties can choose a mediator who is an expert in the field of the dispute. Although a mediator (unlike an arbitrator) cannot impose a resolution on the parties, a mediator can suggest options and creative solutions the parties may not have thought of.
Mediation is often faster and less expensive than resolving disputes via traditional litigation. However, it is not appropriate in all cases, especially when the facts are in dispute.