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Samsung VS Apple: Who Will Win the Patent Battle?

Apple and Samsung's companies' top executives are meeting in court-ordered settlement talks over patent infringements, but recent rulings against Motorola and HTC may scare Samsung into submission.

What's Happening: Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung executive Gee-Sung Choi will meet with Judge Joseph Spero in San Francisco to discuss the patent infringement cases Apple has against Samsung and try to work out a solution.

Since the court ordered mediation in April, Samsung execs discussed their willingness to cross-license, which demonstrates the South Korean powerhouse may want to avoid a trial.

What's Really Happening: Samsung's Choi may be on his best behavior at the meetings, because Apple's most recent patent infringement case against fellow Android phonemaker HTC ended up getting HTC's lauded handsets banned in the U.S. Some of HTC's phones are now just starting to stream into the U.S. after being held up by the International Trade Commission in customs over patent issues, but the delay likely slowed momentum for HTC's big push into the market.

Similarly, Motorola Mobility saw some of its Android handsets banned after losing in a patent battle with Microsoft. Both Motorola and HTC will likely see their bottom lines substantially damaged by the bans, and Samsung may try to avoid a similar fate by trying to reach a compromise.

What's Next: Samsung will likely be receptive to some talk of compromise, but will Apple? The company is in an advantageous position, as its aggressive patent stance against Android phone makers is starting to pay off.

Apple's robust patent portfolio will help the tech giant attack Samsung, and Apple may use the verdict against HTC to prove that Samsung committed a similar infringement. It may also draw on its patent victories against Samsung in Germany to bolster its place in the U.S. talks.

President Obama may still overturn the HTC and Motorola bans, if he decides the prohibition damages competition and hurts the market. If that happens, then the tables may turn, as Samsung could argue banning its phones would similarly stymie competition.

The Takeaway: Samsung may defy these predictions and show up to the meetings with a bellicose, devil-may-care attitude, or Apple may act with uncharacteristic mercy towards its rival -- but, with the ITC's willingness to ban handsets for copyright infringement, that scenario is simply not likely.

Samsung is Apple's biggest competitor, and though Tim Cook has not vocalized disdain for the South Korean company with the vigor of Steve Jobs, getting Samsung phones banned would be a huge win for Apple. Although Cook is more diplomatic than Jobs, he is likely to take a firm stance bolstered by the precedent-setting bans and wait for Samsung to agree.

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