Apple’s Tim Cook apparently didn’t want to sue Samsung (but did anyway)

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Those “people with knowledge of the matter” are at it again. This time, they spoke to Reuters about the seemingly never-ending patent feud between Apple and Samsung, giving some insight into the beginning of the legal disputes. Apparently, Apple CEO Tim Cook wasn’t the one pushing the issue — it was his predecessor.

According to Reuters’ sources, Cook was wary of taking legal action against the South Korean manufacturer because Samsung was (and still is) a supplier which manufacturers parts in various iDevices. It’s a complex relationship: for example, Samsung paid Apple some US$1-billion after losing a highly publicised patent trial last year. But it also made an estimated US$8-billion in 2012 by manufacturing the parts used in iPhones and iPads.

Steve Jobs reportedly ran out of patience with Samsung, after Apple’s “worst fears” were confirmed when the Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab hit the market, looking mighty similar to the iPhone and iPad. He thought the company was “counting on the supplier relationship to shield it from retribution”. He reportedly shared his thoughts on the similarity of the products with the company’s execs, and “expected, incorrectly, that Samsung would modify its design in response to the concerns”. They didn’t. And so the patent wars began.

Cut to the present day, and what has been achieved? Millions in legal fees later, trials have run (and are continuing to run) from Europe to the US, without any concise conclusion. Apple won the case in the US, but lost one in the UK, and was ordered to post an apology on its website, stating that Samsung didn’t infringe on its registered design. Despite winning the case in the US, it has yet to succeed in securing any permanent sales ban against the sale of Samsung products because, according to Judge Lucy Koh, Apple couldn’t show that it’s being harmed by Samsung’s infringement of its patents, as opposed to Samsung’s overall competitive activity.

Is the war going to eventually reach a stalemate, and fizzle out? Reuters seems to think so, suggesting that the divergent strategies and partnerships between the companies makes calm cooperation a better tactic than fierce fighting with armies of lawyers.

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