Apple and Samsung's hard-fought legal battle may be headed towards a settlement. US District Judge Lucy Koh has just referred representatives from Apple and Samsung to a magistrate who will help mediate talks between the two parties. Both companies have agreed to the mediation, which will involve general counsel as well as CEOs Tim Cook of Apple and Choi Gee-sung of Samsung. According to the order (PDF), the companies must meet within 90 days to discuss the possibility of settlement. If the case is not resolved in settlement, they will then submit a streamlined version of their claims and defenses.
The suits began when Apple accused Samsung of "slavishly" copying its iPhone design, after which Samsung countersued, claiming Apple was violating 10 of its own patents. Since then, the two companies have both tried to remove their competitor's products from stores as the lawsuits escalated. Currently, Apple and Samsung are working on refining their positions, deciding how best to streamline their cases if nothing is resolved in the settlement court. Of course, it's not uncommon for these early settlement conference to fall apart, and the companies have been in talks at various points during previous legal conflicts. Settlements have also been proposed during these latest suits, including one such request last month.