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Apple, Samsung Agree to Drop Patent Suits Outside US

A sales assistant holding Samsung Electronics' Galaxy 5 smartphone (L) and Apple Inc's iPhone 5 smartphone (R) poses for photographs at a store in Seoul, July 16, 2014.

Electronics rivals Apple and Samsung have agreed to drop all patent disputes between each other outside of the United States.

The move, announced by both companies Wednesday, represents a serious de-escalation of what has been a long-lasting and feisty global legal battle.

The agreement ends bitterly fought disputes in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, and Britain.

But it will not affect ongoing litigation in the United States, where analysts say both technology giants stand to win or lose the most.

It also will not include a cross-licensing agreement, which would allow the companies to legally use one another's technology.

Jung Yong-jae, an attorney at the All Bareun Patent and Law Office in Seoul, told VOA the withdrawal of the lawsuits is likely a precursor to reaching such a deal.

"The remaining lawsuits in the United States are left to be settled as the last step as they are considered to be the most important part and are expected to bring large amount of compensation for damage. I think all the lawsuits in the United States will also be completed within one to two years and that they will reach a cross-licensing deal," he said.

The legal battles began in 2011, when California-based Apple accused South Korean-based Samsung of copying technology used in the trend-setting iPhone. Soon after, Samsung filed its own lawsuits against Apple, accusing it of stealing its mobile designs.

There have been recent signs that tensions were cooling. The two agreed to drop their appeals of a patent infringement case at the U.S. International Trade Commission in June.

Still, Samsung is continuing to appeal a 2012 ruling by a U.S. court that ordered the South Korean company to pay Apple $930 million in damages. Apple is also still requesting a sales ban on certain Samsung phones in a separate suit.

Apple and Samsung have vied for worldwide supremacy in the sales of cellphones. Samsung was once a small competitor in the market, but now sells more smartphones than Apple.

VOA Seoul Bureau Producer Youmi Kim contribued to this report.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters