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Samsung and Huawei drop lawsuits in latest smartphone truce

Move to settle patent dispute comes as global sales slow

A smartphone-using couple walk past a Huawei ad in the Beijing subway.   © AP

GUANGZHOU -- Samsung Electronics and Huawei Technologies have reportedly agreed to settle their three-year dispute over smartphone patents, likely to refocus their energies on countering a global slowdown in demand.

The world's biggest smartphone vendor and its leading Chinese rival reached a settlement through mediation by the Guangdong High People's Court in southern China, local media reported Tuesday. Terms have not been made public, but the companies are believed to be discussing cross-licensing of patents tied to basic technologies.

In settling, Huawei and Samsung likely wanted to redirect resources spent on the litigation to other areas, especially in an increasingly difficult business environment. Global smartphone shipments fell 4.1% to 1.4 billion units in 2018 to mark a second straight year-on-year decline, according to U.S.-based International Data Corp.

South Korea-based Samsung was the top player, with a 20.8% market share, followed by Apple of the U.S. at 14.9% and Huawei at 14.7%.

Huawei sued Samsung in China and the U.S. in May 2016 for allegedly infringing on its patents on 4G wireless and other technology. Samsung countersued, and the two companies are said to have filed more than 40 lawsuits against each other since in China and elsewhere.

Samsung also settled a seven-year intellectual property dispute with Apple last June. And this April, Apple and U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm ended a legal battle that had held up the iPhone maker's introduction of 5G devices.

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