Representatives from Apple and Samsung --- including Tim Cook and Gee-Sung Choi --- which are involved in an acrimonious dispute over hardware and software smartphone patents, are to meet in San Francisco in the next 90 days in plans to discuss settling the ongoing battle.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who has been presiding over a number of cases, some which fell in Apple's favour and some towards Samsung, ordered the meeting of the two smartphone super-giants, which will be moderated by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero.
First reported by FOSS Patents author Florian Mueller, who noted a similar effort took place between Oracle and Google last fall. That effort did not go down too well with the two companies, as both the software and server company and search giant are now battling it out in court.
This breakthrough could finally resolve what has been a difficult fight between the two companies, which in recent months has quietly dimmed since late last year's escalation of legal threats.
It also comes only a month since both companies were thought to be in talks about a "potential settlement" in the patent blitz, reports sister site CNET. It shows that the companies are at least, besides public appearances, making efforts to end the conflict before it gets further out of hand.
Despite the 'voluntary' nature of the meeting, there appeared to be little wiggle-room for either company involved. While there may not be a resolution from the word go, it is likely that at least some progress will be made in battling out exactly who wants what.
It's an optimistic thought, at very least. Steve Jobs started the war with Android, seemingly going through hardware vendors such as Samsung in a bid to attack the ecosystem that Google had created. But with Tim Cook at the helm, and the ongoing suits costing each side tens of millions in court costs, it might be his place to end what Jobs set out to achieve.
Both companies began court proceedings around a year ago, after Apple fired the starting gun in what embroiled to be a worldwide rush for patent claiming and intellectual property.
To this day, the lawsuits spread across the world into four different continents and over dozens of cases. In some suits, Apple prevailed and sales injunctions sought against Samsung were imposed. Samsung won a rare defeat against Apple late last year after it was given the go-ahead to resume selling its Galaxy Tab tablets in Australia.
But no matter which way one looks at it, the two companies are near level-pegging, and nobody is quite sure who may win, or how long this may go on for.
A settlement is all but necessary to end the madness that has prevailed since April 2011, though it probably won't simmer the knock-on effect felt throughout the industry since.
Samsung is currently under investigation by European authorities for allegedly restricting access to industry-standard essential patents to competitors, including Apple. If the smartphone giant is found guilty, it could be fined up to 10 percent of its global annual turnover for flouting Europe's competition laws.
Apple, however, remains subject to its own patent disputes, as this week a second court ruling banned iCloud and MobileMe push-email technology in Germany.