Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co.: Temporary Cease-Fire or End of Patent War?

He may have overstated things a bit when the late Steve Jobs declared “thermonuclear war” on companies that allegedly infringed Apple’s iPhone patents, but, since Jobs’ death, the company has continued to aggressively pursue litigation against a number of rivals, including HTC Corp., Google Inc., and, most notably, arch-rival Samsung Electronics. While suits against HTC and Google were settled in 2012 and 2013, respectively, the war against Samsung continues. Or does it?

On August 5, Apple and Samsung said in a joint statement they are dropping all of their suits outside of the United States, including litigation in Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. However, skirmishes continue in the United States. Fighting back after large damage awards for Apple in two recent cases, Samsung just had all but two of 38 claims invalidated in an ex parte reexamination of Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,074,172 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. That patent, concerning auto-completion of words typed into devices, was a factor in a recent trial in California that awarded Apple $119 million in damages. Ouch.