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Report: Samsung, Apple Ironing Out Some Patent Problems

By Rob Spiegel MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Sep 30, 2011 1:00 PM PT

Samsung and Apple apparently are in the process of settling some of their patent disputes in Australia, according to The Wall Street Journal. While the present negotiations would not completely settle the conflicts between the companies, they would allow Samsung to sell the Galaxy Tab in Australia in time for the upcoming holiday season.

Report: Samsung, Apple Ironing Out Some Patent Problems

The news came soon after Apple temporarily excluded two of the five patent claims against Samsung's Galaxy 10.1 in Australia. Apple dropped claims involving the use of a slider icon that unlocks the tablet's touchscreen and an icon that bounces when zooming.

The sue-me, sue-you blues will likely continue, though. The Australian negotiations would have no immediate effect on patent suits in nearly two dozen other countries. Galaxy Tabs are temporarily banned from sale in Germany, and Samsung is in the process of suing Apple in France and The Netherlands

New Galaxy 7.0 Plus

In the middle of all the talk about patent settlements, Samsung debuted the 7-inch Galaxy 7.0 Plus. The specs on the 7.0 update are spicy, with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor that runs Android Honeycomb 3.2 and offers front and rear cameras. The tablet features a thinner and lighter body than earlier Galaxy models.

Other features include 1 GB of RAM, 16-GB and 32-GB storage options, 1024 x 600 resolution, and HD recording and playback. The 7.0 Plus will be released in Asia and Europe first, followed by North America and the rest of the world.

Apple did not respond to the E-Commerce Times' request for comments by press time. Samsung declined to comment, citing its policy to keep the details of ongoing discussions and negotiations with partner companies confidential.

Patent Wars Getting Hotter

While Samsung and Apple may be learning how to play well together in one corner of the world, the patent battleground is still plenty fiery.

"The patent wars are getting worse and not better," Allen Nogee, principal analyst for wireless technology at In-Stat, told MacNewsWorld. "Companies have learned that if you can't beat them on price or features, the next best thing is legal maneuvers to slow their sales."

Even so, the Australian deal could help Samsung in Europe. The European battles likely led Samsung to make its Australian peace offering, suggested Nogee.

"They realize that if their tablet was banned in parts of Europe, that may have even bigger impacts than just Australia," he said. "The fact that Samsung has offered this resolution seems to indicate that it fears a negative ruling in Sydney and other countries."

Everybody Hurts

A deal in Australia would not likely put an end to the dispute, according to Neil Shah, analyst for wireless devices strategies at Strategy Analytics. It may only give Samsung the ability to sell the Galaxy Tab in Australia. The battles elsewhere will likely continue to bleed both companies.

"Apple, at this point, is in a better position in the initial round of the ongoing patent battle," Shah told MacNewsWorld. "This legal dispute is an expensive proposition and could hurt both the parties to some extent in terms of newer product launches, market expansion and marketshare."

Apple will not jeopardize its advantage with the current deal, in Shaw's view. Rather, it will try to dictate terms. "Apple will look forward to leap ahead of Samsung -- its closest competitor -- in the important developed markets of Europe and Australia in this close tablet and smartphone race."

The 7.0 Plus May Be a Winner

The timing is right for a new Galaxy, especially with the holiday season approaching.

"The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is a natural refresh of the nearly year-old Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0," said Shah. "The new Tab sports a faster 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, advanced HSPA+ and WiFi radios, larger internal storage. It also has the latest Android Honeycomb OS and is lighter than its predecessor."

With the 7-inch model, Samsung will not be going head-to-head with Apple.

"Certainly the 7.0 Plus possess the always desirable thinner, faster, lighter improvements," said In-Stat's Nogee. "The real advantage of the smaller 7-inch tablet for Samsung, is that Apple doesn't sell a 7-inch tablet. Some people like the smaller tablet form factor. The built-in HSPA+ modem is also a plus for those looking for such functionality."

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