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Apple, Samsung get a room to settle patent war. Forgive us if we don't hold our breath

Last-minute talks to avoid a new trial in Android-iOS conflict

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With the start date of their next trial looming, Apple and Samsung have agreed to try to settle their long-running patent disputes through a mediator.

Bloomberg reports that the bitter rivals announced their intention to enter talks outside the courtroom in documents filed with the US Federal Court in San Jose on Thursday.

The move comes following a request by Judge Lucy Koh in November that each company submit a proposal outlining possible "settlement opportunities" in advance of their next trial, scheduled to begin in March.

Samsung suffered a stinging defeat in the companies' last go-round, when Judge Koh ruled that several of the South Korean firm's smartphone models violated Apple's patents on the design and function of the iPhone. Once the dust cleared from the subsequent haggling over damages, Samsung was handed a bill for $929m, payable to Cupertino.

Apple isn't done yet, though. That 2012 case only involved older Samsung devices, none of which are even being sold by US retailers any longer. Apple has been seeking an injunction preventing Samsung from selling any of the phones named in that suit, but what it really wants is a similar ruling covering Samsung's latest kit.

That's the subject of the second lawsuit the fruity firm has filed against Samsung, which names a whole host of newer devices, including the Galaxy S III, the Galaxy Note, and the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus fondleslab.

With a bit of luck, however, Samsung may be able to avoid a second costly trial – and the possibility of another Apple victory – by settling the matter behind closed doors. We're not holding our breaths, though, especially now that Apple appears to be in a position of advantage.

Apple has long maintained that Google's Android OS and the companies that build devices with it are blatantly ripping off its ideas, with the company's late CEO Steve Jobs reportedly vowing to spend his "last dying breath" working to destroy the rival operating system. Previous attempts to settle the issue outside of court have yielded little fruit.

Nevertheless, Apple and Samsung now say they will jointly find a mediator "who has experience mediating high profile disputes" to try and hash out their differences once more. The meetings will include the companies' respective CEOs and three to four corporate lawyers from each. No outside lawyers will be allowed to attend.

Whatever the eventual outcome, this latest attempt at mediation is expected to commence no later than February 19, the filing states. ®

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