In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

When to Declare Peace With a Corporate Competitor -- Never!

Apple and Samsung finally settled the biggest patent battle in recent history.

When the companies first litigated over cell phone and tablet designs, Steve Jobs was still alive. He called it "thermonuclear war."

But do corporate competitors ever stop being competitors? Will their lawyers really lay down their weapons forever?

Not Over 'Till It's Over

After the dust settled in the seven-year legal battle, Apple emerged as the relative victor. The terms of the settlement were confidential, but it probably cost more than $100 million in fees to reach a $539 million verdict.

"The sumo wrestlers have tired of the wrestling match," said Paul Berghoff, a patent lawyer who followed the cases over the years. "They both were tired and happy to stop paying the outside lawyers."

Now that the patent battle is over, however, it doesn't mean the competition is over. As long as Apple and Samsung make phones and tablets, they will be competitors.

The war chest may shift from the courtroom to the marketplace, but lawyers will still be in the mix. They knew it wasn't over when Apple won the first time.

Longest Case in History

It's not exactly the Hatfields and the McCoys, but it could be a Myra Clark Gaines. She waged the longest-running civil case in U.S. history.

For 57 years, the Gaines cases appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court 17 times and in state and federal courts at least 70 times. It was a battle over her legal status as the sole heir of her father's estate.

Naturally, Gaines died before it was over. Corporations, on the other hand, never die. They just dissolve or merge away.

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