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Cupertino and its various combatants have paid an estimated $400 million in legal fees over the years, with only dubious victories under each side's respective belts. Apple hasn't targeted Google directly with its patent assaults -- it left that for Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL ) -- but has instead targeted Android OEMs like HTC and Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI ) , among others.
In the case with Motorola, Apple has lost key battles, thanks to an extensive Moto patent portfolio that covers essential wireless technologies.
The largest spat that has spread to courts around the world is with none other than mobile rival and component supplier Samsung. Apple buys an estimated $8 billion in ingredients from Samsung annually. Considering the extent of this frenemy-ship, Judge Lucy Koh, the U.S. District Court judge presiding over the cases in California, had suggested the two explore an alternative dispute resolution, or ADR.
CEO Tim Cook is decidedly less emotional than his iconic predecessor, with many industry watchers -- , notably including Steve Jobs' official biographer Walter Isaacson -- believing it's very likely that he will settle Android disputes.
According to FOSS Patents, Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi have now agreed to settlement discussions mediated by a judge. Both companies will send their respective CEOs and general counsels to the bargaining table to try hashing it out. There is a 90-day deadline for the companies to reach an agreement, if at all.
Importantly, Apple and Sammy are making an effort under the direction of Judge Koh, who can require them to at least try to settle, although the dueling duo can certainly keep at each other's throats if they so choose. Oracle and Google have had multiple settlement talks to no avail, with that case's trial kicking off a few days ago.
Whether or not the settlement talks yield some type of truce remains to be seen, but it's much more possible under Cook -- although that might not say too much, since "more possible" just means there is more than the 0% chance of patent peace under Jobs.
Apple's earnings are just around the corner later this month, and it's definitely one of 5 Stocks Investors Need to Watch This Earnings Season. Get this free report to find out what the other four are and why they should be on your radar. It's free.