Samsung and Apple drop patent lawsuits outside U.S.

Samsung and Apple Inc. have agreed to end all patent lawsuits between each other outside the U.S.

Samsung Electronics Co. said Wednesday that the two smartphone rivals will continue to pursue existing cases in U.S. courts.

The announcement marks a significant lessening of corporate hostilities after years of bitter patent disputes over the intellectual property rights for mobile designs and technology. The legal fights spanned a dozen countries in Asia, North America and Europe.

The series of high-stake lawsuits over some of the world’s most popular gadgets began in April, 2011 when Apple accused Samsung, the maker of Galaxy phones, of slavishly copying the iPhone. Samsung responded by charging Apple of stealing its mobile technology.

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Samsung and Apple drop patent lawsuits outside U.S.