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Samsung finally agrees to pay Apple $548 million, with a few caveats

Almost five years after Apple originally sued Samsung for infringing smartphone patents, it seems like the South Korean manufacturer is ready to pay up. In a joint court statement from both companies, Samsung has confirmed that it will pay Apple $548 million before December 14th if it receives an invoice from the iPhone-maker before the weekend. After years of lawsuits and appeals, collecting more than half a billion dollars is a significant win for Apple. But even as Samsung appears to capitulate, it's trying to claw back some cash. The statement notes that Samsung "continues to reserve all rights to obtain reimbursement from Apple," although in the same document, Apple disputes these rights.

The story begins in the spring of 2011

Apple originally sued Samsung in the spring of 2011, just one of many cases at that time in the sprawling smartphone patent wars. In 2012, a court found in Apple's favor, judging that Samsung had infringed the company's patents for features such as tap-to-zoom and multitouch gestures. Apple asked for $2.5 billion in damages and was awarded just over $1 billion, but various appeals from both parties have bounced this figure back and forth over the years, with Samsung whittling it down to $930 million and then $548 million in May this year. This is the figure it has now agreed to pay.

But, as ever, there are several flies in the ointment for Apple. Not only does the joint statement reserve Samsung's right to take some of this money back in any future cases, but this summer, the South Korean company announced it would be requesting a US Supreme Court review of its legal case. Patent analyst Florian Mueller (who first spotted the joint statement), notes that if the court agrees to hear the matter, a retrial is likely. At the same time, the US patent office itself is under pressure for awarding certain patents to Apple in the first place. As Plato so presciently said: only the dead have seen the end of the smartphone patent war.